|Llanystymdwy's local beach, now owned by NT, was once a source of seaweed for the community|
So that is why I recently found myself being buffeted by wind and chilled by spits of freezing rain on a local beach, pitching forkfuls of bladderwrack into my trailer.
But the reason why I’m recounting this experience is not to impress you with my organic credentials or adherence to coastal traditions. I wish to share with you my heartfelt dismay at the proliferation of another man-made pollutant that threatens to corrupt every single beach and cove in our otherwise pristine coastline: plastic.
|Try picking the seaweed out of this...|
Soon after this disheartening experience, I was reminded of the scale of the problem at a Coastal Futures conference I attended in London. Throughout a session on marine waste we learnt a succession of disturbing facts, such as the fact that over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century, and it will triple again by 2025; that a million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans and that 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
But we also learnt that we shouldn’t blame plastic. It’s one of the mankind’s most useful inventions, having transformed our lives in countless ways, including our ability to insulate our houses and so reduce our carbon emissions.
The problem lies with our waste management systems, or lack of them. All over the world, organisations from the United Nations to local charities are coming together to tackle the problem. We learnt about fishermen who have agreed to collect and recycle all the plastic that they collect in their trawl nets and about the excellent work of charities such as the Marine Conservation Society which organise events that enable us all to do our bit to clean our local beaches.
|NT Visitor Services and Community Officer, Rhian Sula, with Michaela Strachan filming for Springwatch at Freshwater West|
Mulling over what I’d learnt on my way back to Wales, my spirits lifted somewhat as I caught myself dreaming of a time when future generations enrich their gardens with seaweed unsullied by so much plastic, and of a time when the residents of that Llanystymdwy terrace will once again be envied by their neighbours for their right to access such a useful resource.
< To find out more about marine litter, and how to help, visit the Marine Conservation Society's excellent Beachwatch Results