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Beach: cleaner

A motley crew of hardy local volunteers scoured the shoreline by The Downs last Sunday in a regular beach clean and rubbish survey. It was pure happenstance that we weren’t out the previous week, when we would have been drenched and frozen in a howling north-easterly. As it was, we had a lovely bright morning – “brilliant blue sunshine” as my Gran would say.

Unsurprisingly, picking up all this crap changes (or perhaps just hardens) my opinion of rubbish and rubbishers. Crisp bags are evil. Ever wondered how it is that crisps can stay crunchy for months in the bag, but soggify within hours of exposure to real life? The answer, my friend, is blowing along our beaches. Crisp bags are made of some kind of micro-engineered multi-layer laminate that (a) would put NASA to shame, and (b) is as impervious to the forces of Nature as an artefact from an alien civilisation. If you seek immortality, just print your name on a bloody crisp bag.

Cotton buds: bastard little things. For reasons that escape me, some people automatically flush their used cotton buds down the loo. The filtering systems in the sewage works are, of course, designed with turds and turdlets in mind. The cotton buds fly like miniature safety javelins through the grills and meshes, and down the pipes to the open sea. The cottony ends obligingly disintegrate, but the little plastic sticks just bob around forever. There’s millions of them all round the British coast, simply because people don’t have the wit to bin them rather than flushing them. If there are bio-degradable cotton buds with wooden or cardboard sticks, they should be compulsory.

Apparently, ships sailing out of Tilbury are major culprits for littering the sea, and not just with cotton buds and crisp bags – I’m guessing the plastic cutlery is theirs. I am reliably informed by wise seadogs that it’s standard practice for ships in port to use a large oil drum or two as an all-purpose rubbish bin, and then empty the lot overboard as they leave the estuary for the open sea. Scumbags.

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