If you’ve seen my social media this last couple of weeks you may have seen that I have some exciting developments in my bid to be more eco-friendly and to inspire others to do the same.

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to secure a place on the latest eXXpedition Virtual Voyage on its South Africa leg. eXXpedition was on an around the world voyage researching into plastic pollution in the oceans, and the effect of the pollutants on our bodies. Then, of course, COVID hit. The boat had to be grounded and the team has had to find alternate ways of getting more ladies involved.

It is also an all-female crew in a bid to provide some balance into the male-dominated STEM industries. A worthy cause in itself.

I have been fascinated by the oceans since I was a young child – plastering my bedroom walls in posters of dolphins, whales and seals, spending hours reading and drawing from books of the same. We had many holidays to SeaWorld (though I now cringe at the truth that has since emerged) and other aquariums. In my 20s, I completed my Open Water scuba diving licence and for my 30th birthday, I scuba-dived with sharks in a UK aquarium. I find something really calming in being by water and listening to any kind of water noise – a good job as we live in a very wet West Yorkshire.

But onto the eXXpedition voyage…​

Armed with a litter picker, this weekend I have been out to do a litter survey as part of the citizen science project for my eXXpedition virtual voyage. The task was to complete 2 x100m transects – though I ended up doing 1km – and enter the results into the marine debris tracker. Despite living inland we can still contribute to this project as an overall view of litter trends is important for understanding how so much gets into our waterways, soil, and other areas of the environment.

As I set off I was initially pleasantly surprised by the lack of litter on my first route, but as the path got closer to the house building site (admittedly on which I live), the true extent of the problem was clear. It was clear at least 90% of the rubbish was building materials, some of which had been there so long it was now getting buried and disintegrating. There are huge amounts of polystyrene included too which were spreading smaller fragments everywhere. The issue has been raised to them many a time and they have at least made a couple of attempts to clean it up, but it clearly isn’t enough. Better regulations surely need to exist in building industries to prevent this!

It was interesting to see the difference in litter types in two slightly different locations – the second being an area youths have been hanging around drinking (and evidence of drug use). It is quite disheartening to know that the litter will just return within the next week.

In one pic you can see snails have crawled inside a discarded cider bottle and I think become trapped. 😞  And a plastic chair dumped in a pond!

I picked up over 200 individual pieces of litter in 2 hours. It only took that long as many people stopped to talk to me about what I was doing and to thank me. Imagine what we could clear if we all did our part ❤️