Mother Ocean Day is celebrated on May 10th of every year. Mother Ocean Day highlights the entire magnitude of the bodies of water that connect us and which make our life possible on Earth. Even though the ocean covers more than 70% of our planet, it is often overlooked and mistreated, leaving our once clean oceans in extremely dire straits. Throughout the past few years we have become more aware of the effects of carbon emissions and the vast amounts of non-biodegradable plastics entering our oceans. This is having a devastating impact on the food chain from plants and the smallest of plankton right through to the largest animal on the planet, the blue whale. However, attitudes are changing, and awareness is growing. We know now more than ever how important it is to protect our oceans, beaches and local spaces. One group doing incredible work in our home town of Margate is Rise Up. Clean Up. Margate. They are "a community-driven movement aimed at protecting Margate’s beaches and keeping our waters clean." We recently chatted to Alanna & Amy all about how the project started and how we can help protect our oceans.
When & how did Rise Up. Clean Up. Margate. start?
Amy set it up in direct response to the massive amount of rubbish being left on Main Sands each day last summer.
I mean, we all saw what a wreck it was, and I was shocked and gutted when I found out that it just gets washed away by the sea each day (I just assumed it was cleared up, but I hadn't questioned how/by whom).
My husband Elliott had been taking our son to the weekly beach cleans while I was super pregnant, and that inspired me to join Amy and lend a hand trying to find additional ways to create some positive change and reduce the litter on the beaches.
What are the key objective of Rise Up. Clean Up. Margate?
Overall, we simply want to reduce the amount of litter on the beaches and in the oceans.
And that means promoting both structural and behavioural change from locals, tourists, businesses and TDC.
The weekly beach cleans will be back this summer, once TDC can allow it as the COVID restrictions ease. These are the heart of the movement and the most immediate way to directly reduce the rubbish going into the sea. It's also such a great way of demonstrating the step change - so if anyone is thinking of joining, please do! We're super welcoming and the more the merrier.
Plus the TidyPacs which run along the Main Sands entrances let people do a little litter pick in between the big weekly ones. We've got a great team of people keeping them stocked up, so massive thanks to all of those guys!
Secondly, we are also looking at ways to reduce the litter in the first place.
That means hopefully working with local businesses to reduce single use plastic in the first place.
Plus working closely with TDC to try to work out a realistic solution to the waste removal issue - we can all see that the bins are often over-flowing, which is pretty hard to stomach when we're trying so hard to clear it. The thing is, no one WANTS overflowing bins. So we've really got to listen to each other and try to work out how to make it better.
Have you always been aware of a litter issue on our beaches or is it something you think is a more recent problem?
That's a hard question because we're both too new to Margate to give a proper answer to that really, and then Covid has had an obvious impact in that we weren't allowed out of our homes for a long period.
Having chatted with our lovely and often hilarious Bay Inspector, Max, I reckon it's been bad for quite some time. But I also think that we're becoming more aware of it.
How can people help to support the work you do?
- Follow our Instagram/Facebook/Twitter
- Come join the weekly picks
- If you have a skill that you can offer - especially any fundraising experience - we'd REALLY appreciate the help!
What has been your greatest achievement as a group?
There are some very exciting things in the pipeline so for now, I'd have to say that I'm really pleased with the relationship we're building with TDC. It's not a super sexy stunt, but we're building the foundations to allow us to work together and hopefully actually make some positive changes.
What is one fact about littering you think everyone should know?
1 in 3 fish caught for the food industry now contain plastic. That's something to think about next time you tuck into your fish and chips.
What can we expect to see in the future for Rise Up. Clean Up. Margate?
Big things! Aside from re-starting our litter picks this summer, we have a number of public art projects in the pipeline, designed to educate and raise awareness of the litter problem. We also will continue to campaign for systemic change from the council; ultimately having them on-side is the key to affecting long lasting change.
Thank you to Alanna and Amy for taking the time to talk to us! You can read more about Rise Up. Clean Up. Margate. over on their website. If you are local to Margate, do keep an eye on their social media for upcoming beach cleans and events. If you live further afield, you can find a beach clean near you using the Marine Conservation Society website.