Sparked by programmes like the BBC’s Blue Planet, the issue of plastic pollution and rubbish on our beaches has been thrust into the spotlight.
Through a series of articles, the Gazette has been calling on Whitby people and businesses to lead the way in halting the killer plastics that pose such a danger to marine wildlife.
Discarded food containers and wrappers as well as plastic bottles are getting into the sea amid startling reports of serious damage to seals and seabirds, right on our doorstep. The final episode of Blue Planet, which has become the most-watched TV programme of 2017, showed how the oceans are threatened by over fishing and plastic pollution.
This week we caught up with Geri Sharrock of Smuggler’s Treasures and member of Surfers Against Sewage, who has been involved in beach cleans for several years, as well as making jewellery from ‘treasures’ found on local beaches.
“If we all just did little bits to help with plastic pollution, it would make such a big difference overall,” she said.
“For the last few years I have supported Surfers Against Sewage, donating to them monthly and I have always had a keen interest in beach combing.
“Now the Blue Planet episode has brought the issue to the forefront of people’s minds.”
Geri organised a big spring clean in Whitby last year, which unearthed a host of horrifying items lurking on the beach, posing a threat to wildlife.
They included dog waste bags, plastic bottles, crisp packets, plastic bags, shotgun cartridges, sanitary waste, plastic balls, disposable BBQs and fishing ropes and nets.
Geri is now linking up with other local enthusiasts determined to reduce waste on our beaches. “I think more education in schools would be good going forward. And because we have social media platforms we can get younger people involved.”
Big beach cleans are planned for the spring and autumn this year. Follow Whitby Beach Sweep on Facebook for the latest.
She added: “It would be nice to see people join the Facebook group and to get involved in the big cleans that we have coming up throughout the year.”
As well as keeping beaches clean, Geri is often out and about searching for sea glass and pebbles to make jewellery with, but she always has a rubbish bag in her hand.
Speaking about her work she said: “I work with ethically sourced gemstones and recycled silver, ensuring my designs have minimal impact on the environment. The collection is heavily influenced by a love of nature, surf and travel.”