What does one ware when you go to Arrochar?
At the end of the last week in May, we – with help from a HUGE number of others including staff and volunteers from The GRAB Trust, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, Luss Estates, Marine Conservation Society, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Argyll and Bute Council, Zero Waste Scotland and the local community council – organised a big beach clean at Arrochar. Why specifically Arrochar?
Well, Arrochar’s position at the head of Loch Long means that during the winter months especially, large volumes of dead seaweed (sometimes called “wrack” or “ware”) accumulate on the foreshore. In the past this was viewed as a bonus for the area as the seaweed was removed and used on fields and gardens as fertiliser. This was a wide spread practice in Scotland, and some coastal villages have a “Ware Road” to this day.
However since the 1950s, plastic has started to become used daily around the globe and it is estimated that we make over 400 million tonnes each year. Of this, about 2 to 5% enters the sea, through bad management of our waste. The presence of this plastic waste in our seas means that the “ware” on Arrochar foreshore is
now completely mixed with pieces of plastic, from large items like buckets and shoes to almost invisibly small pieces, broken down from larger items such as plastic bags and bottles. This mix is now a problem to the local community, not a resource because it cannot be used as fertiliser any longer, and to date there is no known way of separating out the seaweed from the litter.
The beach clean is just the beginning of the fight to tackle this litter issue but by the end of 4 days, 185 tonnes of mixed seaweed/litter were mechanically lifted and taken to landfill and 142 volunteers hand- picked 244 bags of rubbish which were taken in 4 trucks to landfill.
So, on this World Oceans Day, it’s time think about what you can do to help. Where do you put your cotton wool buds? Do you take your litter home from the beach…? And if you want to get involved, why not volunteer for a beach clean? The Marine Conservation Society have got lots of suggestions for ways you can get involved and many Local Authorities also organise beach cleans.
- The Arrochar “Litter Sink”
- Consultation: Proposal to ban the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds in Scotland
A massive additional thanks to all of the volunteers from:
And Jackie Baillie MSP!