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Vegan volunteers collect 40kg of rubbish in first ever coastline clean

PUBLISHED: 11:29 01 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:59 01 July 2019

Suffolk County Council's vegan network doing a beach clean at Orwell Country Park in Ipswich. Picture: JACK BARBER

Suffolk County Council's vegan network doing a beach clean at Orwell Country Park in Ipswich. Picture: JACK BARBER

VEGAN NETWORK JACK BARBER

More than 40 volunteers and members from Suffolk County Council's vegan staff network cleaned the county's coastlines - gathering nearly 40kg of rubbish and more than 13kg of glass.

Suffolk County Council's vegan network did two cleans across the county. Picture: JACK BARBERSuffolk County Council's vegan network did two cleans across the county. Picture: JACK BARBER

The group, which is the first one to be launched by any council in the UK, came together on Friday, June 28 to clean Ipswich's Orwell Country Park and the shoreline of Southwold.

They collected a mix of plastics, fireworks, cigarette butts, chip forks and lolly sticks.

Jack Barber, the co-chairman of the Vegan Network, said: "It was such a worthwhile day at both of our events. Even though the beaches looked clean on the surface, we managed to fill several bags at both locations.

"There were lots of small pieces of rubbish that would have otherwise either have broken down into microplastics and found their way into the environment, or potentially have harmed wildlife directly."

Members of the Suffolk County Council vegan network at Southwold beach clean. Picture: JACK BARBERMembers of the Suffolk County Council vegan network at Southwold beach clean. Picture: JACK BARBER

Before the clean began, Mr Barber took some time to explain to volunteers just how serious the issue of pollution in our oceans is.

He said: "Some studies have shown that the average person eats at least 50,000 particles of microplastic every year, with fish and seafood being a major reason why.

"In the River Blackwater in Essex, scientists found 15 pieces of plastic per litre, with microplastic pollution found in every UK lake, river and reservoir tested.

"Plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as the deaths of more than 100,000 marine animals."

Suffolk County Council's vegan network did two cleans across the county. Picture: JACK BARBERSuffolk County Council's vegan network did two cleans across the county. Picture: JACK BARBER

The beach clean was also used as an opportunity to raise some awareness for Sea Shepherd, an international, non-profit marine conservation organisation that engages in direct action campaigns to defend wildlife, and conserve and protect the world's oceans from illegal exploitation and environmental destruction.

Jack added: "The ocean environment is an intricately-balanced ecosystem designed to support and sustain marine wildlife. We should be so grateful an organisation such as Sea Shepherd is taking direct action for our benefit to protect an eco-system that we all rely on to regulate our climate and weather systems and to provide over half the planets oxygen."

This is the first Big Suffolk Beach Clean event organised by the Vegan Network but not the last. The plan is to make it even bigger next year and clean as much of the 50miles of Suffolk coastline as possible.

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