Plastic sucks.

Single-use plastic is a particularly nasty material. Items made from it have a shockingly short lifespan, normally used once and then discarded. They take over 200 years to decompose – and when they do, the tiny plastic micro particles end up everywhere, from our drinking water to the deepest depths of the ocean. Which brings us nicely on to The Dirty Beach Club – a group of people who go out together monthly and clean Formby beach.

We sat down with Phoebe Neville-Evans and Roberta King, the two women behind the Liverpool movement:

How did it start?

As an avid hiker I’ve grown up walking the coast paths of Formby, Southport and West Kirby. Our little oasis spaces of wilderness. Each time I’ve always brought a bag with me to throw in any crisp packet or strewn bottle I find. But last November I strolled into Formby dunes to find an unprecedented amount of plastic pollution. Within five minutes my bag was packed to the brim, so I took to Facebook to find help.

Despite a number of friends showing enthusiasm the first ever beach clean consisted only of me, Bertie King, and my Nan. Me and Bertie used to work in Oktopus together, and Bertie’s ambition was enough to drive us. We began organising beach cleans once a month. With our February clean attracting 117 volunteers!!! We were absolutely blown away by the kindness, commitment and interest shown by the people we met. In our cleans we’ve found everything: bottles, straws, shoes, cans and to the squeamish entertainment of young children – underwear.        

Why is it important?

Plastic is a brilliant material, but we’re abusing it. We’ve taken something that’s designed to be indestructible, and used it for throw away single-use items such as straws. These items, not properly disposed of, end up in our waters taking over 450 years to break-up into micro plastics. We’re thrilled to see the work Independent Liverpool are doing to ban straws, as are many local businesses. Together we’re trying to prevent this plastic abuse. To date we’ve not only collected over 300 bin bags of plastic rubbish, but inspired people to make real changes as consumers.

What made you start the group?

There’s no doubt that most of us have watched Blue Planet II. So many, in fact, that there has been a surging interest in environmental and marine conservation nicknamed the ‘Attenborough Effect’, which I am, unashamedly, a part of. When David tells you that “we have a responsibility” to end plastic pollution, you listen.   

Since starting the group we have met so many wonderful people, hell-bent on this same goal as us. I’ve become a Regional Representative for the incredible charity Surfers Against Sewage, who have provided us with our very own Beach Clean Box, giving us material for our volunteers. As part of their Be The Change campaign, I’ve taught some truly inspiring children from St.Silas and St.Columbas in Toxteth about the effects of littering.

What’s next for The Dirty Beach Club?

Looking to the future, we have just been shortlisted for an award from Awesome Liverpool!! We’re so excited/nervous to have gotten this far. Hopefully if we win, we can continue to grow to the needs of our environment and our volunteers, making this a fully enjoyable and productive club.

Our next event is Sunday the 8th of April, beginning over the dunes from the National Trust car park (Victoria road) at 11am. It’s part of the Big Spring Beach Clean, a national drive to clear our beaches this season. All of our events are family-friendly, and we’ve great incentives in place to encourage children to get involved. Even with over a hundred participants, we still feel like a tight-knit club. Our volunteers, whether veterans or newbies, will turn up and spend the day drifting between walks along the beach and cups of tea whilst making new friends. We hope you become a new one too!

How can people find out more and volunteer?

The next event is April 8th and the event will be starting at 11am on Frehsfields/Formby beach. If you travel through the National Trust car park and over the dunes you’ll find us set up with a table of tea/coffee and cake in celebration. We’ll provide litter pickers and bin bags, and just ask that you bring along a mug for tea and a pair of gloves to keep you warm. We encourage everyone to take public transport, but if you do drive let us know and we can provide a parking permit for the day. Here’s the Facebook page for next event: