November 2020

River Rother brand audit, Membership, Greenwash

October saw one of our biggest and most extensive events so far, when Strandliners took part in the Break Free From Plastic Brand Audit on a section of the River Rother (see review below). Our efforts contributed to the BFFP annual report and also to the Surfers Against Sewage national data. Pretty impressive!

The mass of information gathered not only adds to the report (out shortly) but also boosts evidence indicating the true state of plastic pollution along the River Rother. If all the rubbish were simply picked, bagged and binned, no one would know how much was there or, importantly, what it was. 

Strandliners volunteers itemised over 3,000 pieces in a 1 km stretch!

This gives us a useful snapshot of the plastic pollution present – and also at other sites along the river – which can be compared over time, building up a picture (data set) which clearly shows the growth and extent of the problem.  Having this type of hard evidence enables us to work productively with local stakeholders and, ultimately, reduce the source of pollution.

We can see some of this evidence emerging from the Marine Conservation Society’s latest annual Beach Watch report which included our September 2020 events, when Strandliners surveyed three beaches (Pett Level, Winchelsea Beach and Dungeness) with great success. Thank you to everyone who took part – your efforts will contribute to the bigger picture.

And now… at last… Strandliners membership!

We have thought long and hard about this one, and hope we have come up with a useful membership package (see info further on). By joining as a member, you will help us raise the funds to continue our work, so that volunteers can carry on getting out and about identifying and recording plastic pollution in our communities. 

I particularly am looking forward to the winter workshops, where experts in their fields will help us gain knowledge about some of the amazing things that are washed up on our beaches.

The newsletter will continue on a much reduced level and a new publication – ‘The Fulmar’ – will be out quarterly for members only. Other benefits include free winter workshops, a beachcombing walk, and inclusion in a monthly prize draw – a beach-combed treasure that has a story to tell… 

For more information follow the link to the Membership page on the website.

River Rother brand audit for Break Free From Plastic

What is a Brand Audit?
In this case, it is picking up plastic rubbish and waste from a certain measured area, and sifting through to identify by brand, type of use, type of plastic. This is the fourth year we have conducted a brand audit and it was by far the largest. Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution.

Where did we do it?
A one kilometre stretch along the River Rother near Rye, East Sussex.

How did we do it?
Four lengthy sessions with small groups of Strandliners volunteers collecting all the plastic pollution and bagging it. During another long session we emptied the bags and sorted rubbish into use and type (of plastic) and lastly by brand. Finally we bagged it for RDC and Biffa to collect. We thank all the stakeholders for their support to make this a successful operation.

What did we find?
An amazing 3,324 identified and recorded items (3,223 plastic). But there were many more smaller pieces – unidentified and unrecorded due to time constraints.

Headline stories emerging from the brand audit…

196 plastic drink bottles
60 milk bottles
(32 glass drinks bottles & 47 metal drinks cans)
Total 335 drinks containers

219 wet wipes
173 plastic bags

73 items smoking related items (2%)
320 personal care items (10%)
521 household product items (16%)
1056 food packaging items (32%)
611 fishing gear items (18%)
604 polystyrene pieces (18%)

103 metal/glass food packaging items (3%)

Most polluting brands
Cadbury 45 items
Coca-Cola 38 items
Co-Op 31items
Walkers 21 items
Aldi 21 items
Lucozade 19 items
Mars 15 items
Pepsi 15items
Tesco 15items
Euroshopper 11items

What can we all do?
If anyone wants to take part in events like this, Break Free From Plastic is an international organisation you can participate in as an individual or as a group. Join Strandliners to take part, learn how to undertake surveys, clean up and begin to learn where it all comes from.

On a personal level – consume less (reduce/refuse), re-use, repair. If we produce waste, ensure it is appropriately disposed of and remember that plastic recycling may be helpful but is still a very inefficient process.

Your help needed!

We have dates for future surveys
Here are the up and coming Strandliners organised surveys and clean ups. 
Please email stating preferred event/date and we will plan so that everyone can participate. As group sizes are limited we will aim for everyone to have a chance to join in at some point.

Dungeness (Lydd Ranges MOD) – Saturday 12th December 2020, 9.30am to 1.30pm – Marine Conservation Society 
Dungeness (Lydd Ranges MOD) – Saturday 9th January 2021, 9.30am to 1.30pm – Marine Conservation Society
Camber Sands – Saturday 16th January 2021, 9am to 11am – Nurdles and micro plastics hunt for FIDRA 

Of course if the COVID guidelines change we will adapt and at worst postpone these events.

Great British Beach Clean 2020 results

Strandliners participated in three events in September, the survey results are in the October newsletter.
And here is a message from the Marine Conservation Society… 

The results from the Great British Beach Clean (GBBC) are out. Like many events this year GBBC looked a little different. But despite the unusual circumstances we had an amazing 459 clean ups, with 2124 volunteers taking part, removing just over 3 tonnes of litter. What an incredible achievement, so a massive thank you to everyone who took part this year, whether at the beach or inland.   

Our results show a concerning, but perhaps predictable, presence of PPE litter. Face masks and gloves were found on almost 30% of beaches cleaned over the week-long event. The inland Source to Sea Litter Quest data saw two thirds (69%) of litter picks finding PPE items. 

Drinks litter continues to be found on UK beaches, with an average of 30 drinks containers, caps and lids being found per 100m of beach surveyed this year. Inland, almost all litter picks (99%) found drinks litter. This continued blight to the UK’s shores and inland spaces illustrates the urgent need for the rest of the UK to follow Scotland’s lead and introduce an all-inclusive Deposit Return Scheme.The 2020 results can be found on the Marine Conservation Society website.


This month – Greenwash
This term was first used in the 1980’s to describe corporate companies and their marketing strategies to assimilate environmental issues and terminology for their own agenda of profit from different markets.

These two questions are from this year’s Break Free From Plastic post event party.

1 – What is greenwashing?
Cleaning your houseplants.
A marketing strategy to persuade people that a company is ‘sustainable’ on the surface (it’s this one!).
When one green t-shirt turns your whole laundry green.
Making soap out of vegetables.

2 – How do plastic polluting companies use greenwashing?
Delaying real change, e.g. with voluntary commitments.
Distracting the public e.g. blaming consumers and focusing on recycling.
Derailing legislation e.g. with direct and indirect lobbying.
All of the above.

From the Oxford English Dictionary…
disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.
“while they can be useful, these sorts of standards are sometimes used quite cynically—as corporate greenwash”


A sustainable and environmentally-friendly Christmas gift!

Now live! 
Membership is £10.00 per year – on our website
We are offering… 
An expanded quarterly magazine: ‘The Fulmar’
Priority booking for events, including winter workshops – to gain beachcombing experience and skills
A free beach walk with Andy Dinsdale.
Monthly prize draw


Strandliners is a voluntary run community interest company. Funds usually come from small grants – but these cannot cover all expenditure. To help develop our area of work and the events Strandliners holds, we now are able to receive donations on our website.

Thank you to all who have donated, your support is greatly appreciated.

Want to know more about plastic pollution?

Last chance to register…
This 2 to 6 week course (set over 10 weeks) will give an insight to the marine plastic crisis we are experiencing. This is what you will learn. It is the 4th time is has been offered and is excellent and will be thought provoking, time consuming but invaluable for anyone interested and/or involved in the environment. There should be two levels so it may be possible to dip your toes for the first two weeks or continue for the full eight weeks. And it is free!

Registration is open until 20th November and so far there are 15 of us registered. We have a Facebook and an email support group. It may be challenging but we are supporting each other to gain as much knowledge about this complex issue.

You can sign up here.