Visitors and residents join forces in Swanage to tackle beach litter

Despite pleas to beachgoers to take their rubbish home, volunteers are being kept busy ensuring Swanage Beach and seafront is clean, tidy and litter-free.

The twice weekly litter pick by Swanage Beach Buddies attracts around twenty volunteers from the town, as well as holidaymakers who want to lend a hand.

The team is part of Litter Free Purbeck which co-ordinates litter picking across the isle. There’s also Swanage Landers who keep the town’s roads and verges rubbish free.

Swanage Town Council does have one full-time seafront cleaner and another part-time, with four other staff supporting the effort during the busy months, but the extra help makes a big difference.

Team leaders for litter pick

Sally Pratten and Amanda Bursey promote a ‘Litter Free Purbeck’

Keen swimmers

Sally Pratten and husband Dave, along with Amanda Bursey, are organisers of the litter pick.

Sally said:

“Dave and I, along with Amanda, all swim in the sea. We basically started doing the litter pick because we didn’t want all the rubbish we saw on the beach washing into the sea where we swam.

“We took it over just before Covid and obviously we couldn’t do anything to start with but once we were able to meet in groups outside we have got very good support.

“We like to think we’re making a difference. This year people are much more aware of the fact that the beach is being kept clean and they will thank us.”

Litter pickers

Volunteers Jo Curtis and Margaret Richardson picking litter on the beach

“Satisfaction of keeping the beach clean”

Amanda Bursey, a buyer with a local manufacturing company, said: 

“I moved to the area and wanted to get to know some people. I get the satisfaction of keeping the beach clean and frankly it’s a nice thing to do after a day in the office!”

Anna Seidler, from Watford, was among those joining a Tuesday evening litter pick. She and her family regularly visit her father who lives in Swanage and join him on the litter pick. 

Picking litter

The tools of the trade

“Disgusting”

Anna said: 

“We enjoy it. It’s great fun and it helps protect the environment and stop all the rubbish ending up in the ocean and making it disgusting.”

Husband Phil said: 

“It would be much better if people didn’t drop the litter in the first place. We collected 32 kilograms on Sunday which is nowhere near a record but it’s a shocking amount, considering it’s largely cigarette butts. 

Cigarettes may be largely made of biodegradable material but they also contain plastics and toxic chemicals.

Phil added:

“Why do smokers think they have the right to drop litter? And I’ve also picked up full doggie bag deposits too.”

Litter pickers

New to Swanage, Chris and Kate Butler get stuck in

“I hate mess”

Chris and Kate Butler have newly moved to Swanage and enjoy the social aspect of the work.

Chris said:

“We have only just moved here and we wanted to meet local people and contribute something to the community.”

Kate added: 

“I used to do litter picking in Derby before we moved here. I hate mess and mess creates mess. If people see it, they think it doesn’t matter.”

Litter picker on Swanage beach

Cigarette butts are among the most common items found

“My way of saying thanks”

Margaret Richardson has a holiday home in Swanage. She said: 

“I am a beach lover and a swimmer. It’s my way of saying thanks – to pay back for all the enjoyment Swanage gives me. 

“It’s nice because you get so many people saying thank you, you’re doing a grand job, so that’s a reward too.”

Litter picker

Chris Wallis on the hunt for litter

“In an ideal world we wouldn’t have rubbish”

Among the appreciative holidaymakers on the beach was Gemma Coldicott from Croydon, who said: 

“It’s a brilliant idea. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have rubbish in the ocean but it’s good that there are volunteers doing something about it. I appreciate what they’re doing. It’s always nice to come to a clean beach.”

Lynn Barr, from Hertfordshire, said:

“It’s a good idea. It’s nice to see. It’s something that our daughters do back home.”

Litter picker

It doesn’t take Chris long to find something to pick up

“Good team spirit”

In an ideal world, people would take their litter home with them after a day out but until then the litter pickers are doing their best to make sure the beach and seafront in Swanage are clean and safe.

Volunteer Chris Wallis said: 

“We’ve got a good team spirit and everyone feels welcome to take part. It’s nice to see people who aren’t residents or are just visiting lending a hand.”

Further information

  • More about Swanage Beach Buddies is on the Litter Free Purbeck website

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