Last month Visit South Devon was invited to take part in a beach clean hosted by The Devon Concierge Club. The event was in collaboration with the 2 Minute Foundation, a fantastic charity who believe that simple acts can lead to a big difference. Their aim is to see a world without plastic litter and pollution, and to inspire others to change the way they interact with outdoor spaces.

The beach clean took place at the beautiful Slapton Sands in the South Hams. Despite the weather being a bit grey and miserable, we were excited to get out onto the beach and take the small step to help our planet. We were joined by several fantastic local and independent businesses, such as Salcombe Dairy, Torquay Watersports and Musto, as well as plenty of families who bought their four-legged friends along for extra support!

child picking litter

(Image Credit: Claire Gillo Photography)

From looking at it, the beach looked fairly litter-free, but it’s not until you start looking for plastic that you realise how much there is. In fact, collectively we picked up a huge 47kg of rubbish! The main culprits were flimsy plastic packaging such as chocolate bar wrappers, which could have been dropped on the beach, or washed up from the sea, as well as lots of little bits of fishing lines. Both could have easily been digested by marine life or the birds which inhabit Slapton Ley on the other side of the road. We walked for a mile from the coffee hut at Strete Gate to the monument at Slapton Sands, so you can only imagine how much litter could have been found if we had walked the entire expanse of the beach to Torcross.

people on litter pick

(Image Credit: Claire Gillo Photography)

Once we had finished the litter pick, The Devon Concierge Club ran a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses, such as a meal at Rockfish or a bottle of rum from Hattier’s Rum. After the raffle we joined the other businesses at Start Bay Studio, a wonderful event space and yoga studio in Torcross, for a tasty and (mostly) plastic-free lunch. Sandwiches, pastries and cakes were on offer, plus tasty Burt’s crisps and tantalising fizzy drinks from Luscombe – all local which reduced the carbon footprint of our meal, as well as supported local businesses.

whale cup cakes

(Image Credit: Claire Gillo Photography)

Following lunch we took part in a corporate responsibility workshop where we discussed the things we can all do in our personal and work life to reduce our plastic usage and become more eco-friendly. It started with an interesting discussion about how many plastic-based items we used between getting up that day and heading to the beach clean; such as hair brushes, showers and car keys, for example. It was surprising how many items we all use that are made of plastic. Of course, there are some unavoidable things such as cars or phone chargers, but there are certainly other ways to reduce our everyday plastic usage.

If you can, take a minute to actually think about how many plastic items you use in your house. Then take another minute to think about how you can swap these items for eco-friendlier ones. After all, that’s the ethos of the 2 Minute Foundation, it only takes 2 minutes to make a change. Things such as swapping your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one is an easy fix, or making yourself lunch to take to work instead of buying a meal deal from the supermarket. If you run a business, think about the ways that you can encourage your employees to be more green; such as implementing a cycle-to-work or car sharing scheme, or even giving them reusable coffee cups or water bottles so they don’t have to keep buying single-use items. The workshop certainly gave us a lot to think about personally and as a business. At Visit South Devon we strive to be environmentally friendly, as well as promoting sustainable tourism, but there were certainly things we hadn’t thought of which were highlighted during the workshop. 2023 will be our year to apply those ideas as well as helping our community to become more mindful of their plastic usage.

If you’d like to take part in a beach clean, the 2 Minute Foundation have set up litter picking points at a number of beaches, green spaces and towns in South Devon and beyond. Why not join us in taking that small step to help our home… after all, there is no Planet B! If you’re interested in finding out what we’re doing to become a more sustainable business, head to our facebook page, or sign up to our newsletter. We’ll also be offering tips and tricks to reduce your plastic usage there too!