ORGANISING YOUR OWN BEACH CLEAN
If you're interested in organising your own beach clean, I've put together a list of things for you to consider and to help guide you through the process.
LAND OWNER'S PERMISSION
It’s best to notify the local council or private land owner for any organised clean-up event.
Ideally you want to be notifying the land owner a good amount of time prior to the event, I’d recommend a minimum of 2 weeks, however the local council may require a month notice.
You may not always receive a response so this shouldn’t stop you going ahead with the event, at the end of the day you’re removing litter from their land which they’ll most likely be grateful for you doing.
Most of the beach cleans I do are in the Great Yarmouth Borough and they have an online form to complete for notifying them of an event, here: https://www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/events-guide/notify-us-of-an-event
Litter gets everywhere, it gets carried by the wind and tides, but there are some areas that need attention more than others.
Areas that attract a lot of visitors is more than likely to have litter due to a number of factors, such as overflowing bins due to the high usage, areas near takeaways (i.e. cafes, ice cream & doughnut outlets, fish and chips, etc). Beach toys used on sandy beaches are often left behind, including the net bags and labels that they’re sold in.
Other things to consider when deciding where to clean is the nearby facilities, such as parking, public toilets, bins and possibly a place serving refreshments for afterwards.
Also, hazards and the terrain should be considered. Not all beaches are sandy, some have a steep incline and are shingle beaches which pose difficulty walking on. Some beaches have cliffs which pose a hazard for falling rocks or sand slides.
With continual coastal erosion, parts of the Norfolk coast have suffered significant land loss.
The beaches I clean regularly are Caister (Lifeboat Station), Gorleston (Opposite Marina Bay Cafe) and North Denes (Opposite Barnard Avenue). The reasons I chose these areas is due to distance from where I live and parking.
Gorleston & North Denes (Great Yarmouth) have free parking and Caister is free parking in the winter, with summer being £1 per hour. The parking is also very close to the beach & meeting location so there’s less distance for me to carry all of the equipment, so logistically they’re ideal locations.
When you’re able to host a beach clean is a good start.
Most people work Mon-Fri (9-5), so evening and weekends are going to be the best times to attract larger groups of volunteers.
Depending on where the beach you’ve chosen to clean is, the time will be dependent on the tide.
The best time to start a beach clean is around 2 hours before low tide.
Also, depending on the time of year you’ll need to check what time is sunset, it’s not ideal to be litter picking in the dark or in low light levels.
Like most people I have a full-time job (Mon-Fri) so the weekend is ideal for me to host the beach cleans. The beaches on the East coast are not usually affected by tide times as they are on the North Norfolk coast. I usually organise the start time to be in the morning, it’s generally easier to get parked and after the 3-4 hours I’ve been there, I’ve still got the rest of the afternoon.
A risk assessment and event management plan (EMP) will need to be created for the event.
A risk assessment is generally the same for all beach cleans but you may want to include location specific details such as the nearest hospital and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) location on the risk assessment too.
And date specific details such as tide times (high & low), I use the website Willy Weather for looking up tide times, here: https://tides.willyweather.co.uk/
Or you could use Tide Charts: www.norfolk-tides.com
PRIVATE OR PUBLIC?
If your beach clean is with family and friends then you won’t need to have public liability cover.
But if you’re organising the event to be a public event then it’s required you have public liability insurance. The council will usually ask for you to complete and submit a risk assessment and event management plan (EMP) along with a copy of the public liability insurance policy.
The larger charities that organise beach cleans offer their insurance to cover your event as long as you follow their guidelines. This usually includes advertising your event on their page and giving a safety briefing before all beach cleans.
The most effective way is to create a Facebook event or an event via Eventbrite.
You’re able to share the event link across social media and keep track of the numbers that have signed up to attend.
You’re also able to keep everyone up to date if the event has to be cancelled for whatever reason.
Not everyone has a stock of litter pickers at their disposal, so it might be worth contacting your local council to borrow litter picking equipment. Be sure to contact them ahead of the event to find out how much equipment they’re able to loan out.
If you’re unable to provide enough equipment, list in the event details for volunteers to bring their own equipment if possible.
Also, if you do have a lot of equipment for volunteers to borrow, it helps to chose a beach with parking nearby so you’re not carrying a lot of equipment for a long way.
As well as the practical equipment for the litter picking, it’s worth having a sharps bin and first aid kit to hand for the safety aspects. Needles can be found on a beach clean and needs to be disposed of in a sharps bin and often there is broken glass and if handled might cause someone to injure themselves, so a basic first aid kit with antiseptic wipes and plasters is essential.
Other equipment to consider is weighing scales to record the total weight of litter collected and hand sanitiser for volunteers to ‘clean’ their hands afterwards.
To ensure your volunteers stay safe during the beach clean it’s worth while giving a safety briefing before they go off on the beach clean. They key is to keep it brief and often it’s a requirement as part of the public liability insurance. If you haven’t warned someone that broken glass may cut them and they go and do it, they can hold you liable as the organiser of the event.
Most of it is common sense, however your briefing should include other details and instructions such as when to finish by, where to clean-up (it may be obvious but I get asked that question a lot), where to put the rubbish afterwards, etc.
Depending how much litter you’ve collected, you may either arrange for the local council to collect, drop the rubbish off at a participating recycling centre or in your home bin.
The land owner may have advised where they want you to put the rubbish after seeking permission to host the beach clean on their land.
Otherwise, bag up the rubbish well and place near the bins provided. Ensure the bags are out of the way so they don’t obstruct access or walkways. Avoid piling the bags high as they could fall and cause injury to someone if they’re heavy enough.
Notify the council of the waste to be disposed of. I usually email the council after the event with details of where they are, how many bags including the total weight and I attach a photo for reference.
There are some recycling centres around Norfolk that accept up to 3 bags of litter collected from litter picks, all you need to do is fill in the following online form:
Litter brought to Recycling Centres must NOT contain any of the following;
• Bagged dog waste or other animal waste.
• Liquid waste.
• Gas canisters or other hazardous waste.
AFTER THE CLEAN
Post on social media to let all the volunteers know how the group did, such as what the collective total of litter collected was, or if you conducted a survey report the outcome.
If you’ve had time to sort through the litter, it might be interesting for people to hear what the most bizarre item found was or what the most common item found was