There is a lot of garbage floating around in the ocean. Countless examples of just how bad it’s gotten are floating around the internet: the great Pacific garbage patch, the Maldives’ trash island andthe massive problem Indonesia has with marine litter, just to name a few. Surfers Against Sewage has been waging a war on plastic pollution for years now, and their most recent beach clean up was a big one. Ten tons big.
But one only has to look as far as their local beach break to see proof–nearly every stretch of coastline has garbage on it. Generally, within a few steps, one can find some piece of plastic sitting in the sand, washed up from the guts of the ocean after we’ve thrown it in hundreds of miles away. While there are a few large scale ocean clean up plans, like Boyan Slat’s ingeniously simple Oceanic Cleanup Array, ocean trash remains a very big problem.
In the first week of November, 3500 volunteers came together at 160 beaches to pick up a staggering 10 tons of garbage from the UK coastline. They recycled 10,000 plastic bottles and cans, found a bunch of weird shit including a passport, a plastic cake, and hundreds of toy soldiers, and some “retro rubbish” including Coke cans from the ’80s and a Britain’s Ltd toy soldier from 1986.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, we dump a staggering amount of shit into the ocean. An estimated eight million pieces of garbage, most of which is plastic, make their way into our playground every single day. By their estimate, that means there are more that 5 trillion plastic doodads floating around. Here’s the thing, though: of those, nearly 270,000 tons are on the surface, meaning that it is literally just the tip of the garbage iceberg. There is far more garbage that we can’t see.
It’s inspiring to see things like the Surfers Against Sewage beach clean up. And while it doesn’t even put a dent in what we’re currently doing, a turnout like the one in the UK means that more people are waking up to the fact that we need to clean up our mess.
If you want to organize a beach clean up yourself, get a hold of Surfers Against Sewage at or contact Surfrider Foundation.