Fighting litter and marine polution

Fighting litter and marine polution

"Take nothing, only photos; leave nothing, only footprints" is a good starting point. If you would like to go one better and make a positive difference to leave the environment in a better state than you found it, then read on...

Beach cleaning

As well as domestic plastic ending up in the sea, over a tonne of fishing gear is abandoned in the sea every MINUTE, on average. Work is being done to change the economics to stop gear being dumped but the sea is already full of the stuff. Every year this kills over 100,000 whales, dolphins and turtles as well as countless seabirds. It is also estimated to be destroying around 10% of the total commercial fish stocks.

When this washes ashore, it is important to get it off beaches as quickly as possible before it can wash back into the sea and kill more.

What you can do to help

If you come across litter or a small amount of fishing gear on a beach that's safe to remove then bin it. Look out for #2minutebeachblean boards on many beaches which include litter pickers and plastic bags.

If you spot some that's too large to deal with yourself then take a photo and email it to, describing where it is and giving an idea of size.

Litter-picking inland

Since the routes are circular, if you're intending to litter-pick along the route, you'll need to carry your own equipment for the duration of the walk. Walking with companions can help to share the load. On the more rural walks, there will be no public bins (but generally less litter too).

Dog poo

If you have a dog, get a Dickybag and then start telling other people about them. This is an elegant and incredibly well-made solution to carrying dog poo bags on walks until you find a bin. They are worth every penny more than cheaper copies both because they work brilliantly and they last for ages. The National Trust rangers at Crantock use them intensively nearly every day for cleaning up after other people and even after nine years of abnormally heavy use, they are still fine.

Prosecution for littering

Deliberately dropping litter in a public place or on private land is a criminal act with a £150 fixed-penalty fine which if unpaid can result in a criminal record and a larger fine (e.g. £1000). Incidents can be reported to the Cornwall Council public protection team on 0300 1234 212 or emailed to Video or photo evidence will more likely result in a prosecution.

Reporting fly-tipping

If you encounter fly-tipping, do not touch the waste but report this to Cornwall Council. Fly-tipping is a criminal act which can carry a large fine and even a jail sentence. Although the council will only clear fly-tipping on council land, if the offender is tracked-down, the landowner can charge all the disposal costs to the offender.


Some volunteering events which are a good way to meet likeminded people...

Litter picking equipment

Litter-picking grabs made in Cornwall from recycled ghost gear are available from Waterhaul here so you can literally pick up litter using recycled litter. They also make sunglasses from recycled ghost gear 😎.