Plastic Shores is based across the USA and the UK but there were two main beaches we explored for plastic pollution. The first was Kamilo Point in Hawaii, where we were taken around by the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The second was Porthtowan in Cornwall (above). Both these shorelines provided the small pieces of plastic used in the animation sequences put together by Alice Dunseath for the film.
We found out about Porthtowan through Chris Hines MBE, the founder of UK-based charity called Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), who Plastic Shores’ director Ed Scott-Clarke met at a lecture hosted by Selfridge’s department store for their Project Ocean campaign. Chris (above) was one of the interviewees for the film and told us all about SAS’s work in almost single-handedly changing the way the UK and the EU think about sewage. In Chris’ words though, “What we dealt with was the continuous crude raw discharges that had been inherited from Victorian times. And those are gone now…then, all those panty-liners and condoms that we used to see, and we saw a lot of them, they have been replaced by an ever-increasing amount of marine debris, marine litter. All kinds of pieces of plastic from plastic bags, to sheets of plastic, to broken down pieces of plastic bottles, to mermaid’s tears. And I’ve been seeing more and more of it.”
Chris put us in touch with his former colleagues (he has now left SAS and set up a new organisation called A Grain of Sand) at the SAS HQ in St. Agnes, Cornwall, including Andy Cummins (above, right). Andy, also an interviewee in Plastic Shores, took us down to Porthtowan beach, a beautiful spot near Truro. What was amazing about the beach was that, unless you were looking very closely, the majority of the plastic pollution was almost invisible to the eye. When we leant down close though, we could see that there were an infinite amount of small pieces of plastic in the sand. Andy explained about the ‘Blue Flag’ initiative put together by the Foundation for Environmental Education. “To get a Blue Flag…you go to the dirtiest part of the beach and you pick a 10cm by 10cm area…and there shouldn’t be 10 pieces of small plastic in there.” In the area Andy chose on Porthtowan, by far not the worst spot on the beach, he counted almost a 100 pieces. “The scale of this litter is phenomenal,” he said shaking his head.
Surfers Against Sewage does fantastic work around the UK in raising awareness for the state of our coastlines and waterways. With their previous successes in tackling sewage discharges by taking on EU legislation and tackling the big water corporations, one can’t help but feel optimistic that they are now fighting to clear our seas of plastic pollution. We thank them for all the help they have given us.