The Crown Estate co-funded Cool Seas Investigators, a pilot project run by the Marine Conservation Society through the Touching the Tide partnership, encouraging young people to take action to reduce beach litter in their local community.
The Crown Estate, manager of around half of the UK’s shoreline, has an important role to play in supporting initiatives that reduce marine litter.
We were delighted to support the Cool Seas Investigators pilot project to encourage young people to take action to reduce beach litter in their local community. Changes in the behaviours that lead to marine litter in the first place are good news for people and wildlife, as well as the UK’s tourism and fishing industries.
As part of the Marine Conservation Society efforts to reduce the amount of litter reaching our beaches, the charity ran the Cool Seas Investigators pilot project in 2015. This was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Crown Estate through the Touching the Tide Landscape Partnership Scheme.
To first give young people insights into the issue of marine litter, 110 primary and secondary students from two schools took part in a beach clean. This was followed by a day of workshops on the topic, involving local industry representatives. Students were then supported to work in small teams using data from their beach clean and historical data collected by local volunteers, to identify problems in Suffolk and suggest potential solutions.
Three groups from each school presented their ideas to cut marine litter in their local communities. Suggestions included child friendly bins at beaches, a campaign targeting tourists visiting Suffolk’s beaches and getting supermarkets to reduce the number of plastic carrier bags their customers use. The winning group focused on the issue of microbeads in personal care products. Their proposal involved a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and promote the Beat the Microbead app. They are now working on this with the Marine Conservation Society’s Education Officer.
As well as linking with core curriculum areas, activities were designed to develop soft skills young people need for success, such as cooperation, critical thinking and communication. The project also led to the creation of a resource pack for schools, providing everything teachers need to deliver locally relevant projects on marine litter, including information, assessment measures, workshop outlines, presentations and video demonstrations. This pack is available on the Marine Conservation Society website and could help change behaviours of young people and their families across the UK.
Peter Riches, The Crown Estate’s managing agent for Suffolk, was one of the judges who chose the winning project. He said: “As a coastal property manager, I was thrilled to see students from a wide age range so keen to develop ideas to reduce beach litter. The presentations were all innovative and to a very high standard. It is particularly exciting that the winning idea came from one of the younger groups and we hope to see it fully developed and the app available in the near future.”