Outstanding Brownies!

Thursday 21st September 2017

Last weekend saw events taking place across the country for two big national campaigns: we had The National Association}Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) "Outstanding Week 2017" and the Marine Conservation Society's "Great British Beach Clean". So what did we do? We combined them, and added food!

by Nikki Banfield ~IoS Wildlife Trust | Communications Officer

Following the success of "Debris for Doughnuts" earlier this year it just confirmed what we already knew.  The best way to motivate people on Scilly to give up their free time and pick up marine debris is to offer them a free boat trip and food.  So, that's what we did, again!

Creating a combined event for Outstanding Week 2017 and the Great British Beach Clean seemed like an obvious thing to do.  What better way to celebrate our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty than by tidying her up a bit with a beach clean? 

We've been trying to arrange a beach/coastal clean on Samson for some time now; "Doughnuts" was meant to take place there earlier in the year but plans were scuppered by the weather and the majority of the summer months (when the weather is better) are precluded as we do not want to disturb our breeding seabirds.

The week prior to "Brownies" was a week of intense weather watching; there was a lot of orange and red in the wind forecast (for those of you that don't know orange & red = strong winds and therefore no landing on Samson) with a tiny patch of blue (very light winds) that kept drifting into Sunday and then away again.  

But Sunday came and not only was the wind forecast "blue" but so was the sky!

As with everything "Scilly", we may have had the "blue wind", blue sea and blue sky, but some things just don't go according to plan.  

We were scheduled to leave St Mary's on a 10:15 boat, along with the Community Archaeology Group who were also heading to Samson, however, there was an issue involving the boat, a rope and a propeller so the boat we were meant to be going on was out of action and we had to wait for a back-up to arrive.  

So, after four different boats and a detour via Bryher we ended up on Samson with bags, litter pickers, gloves, lots of hands and a big box of Chocolate Brownies!

On arrival on Samson we had the obligatory health and safety talk, which this time included the awe inspiring Portuguese Man O'War (for those of you that are curious about these beautiful beasties check out our most recent blog!)

Then we got on to the exciting stuff.  The request for all our beach cleaners to keep track of what they were collecting and keep all their rigid plastics (bottles, containers, fish boxes, basically anything that was plastic and couldn't be tied in a knot) separate from everything else.  

The reason?  It's being shipped off of the Islands and is going to be recycled!!

The beach cleaners did a fantastic job (most defintiely earning their Brownies) and by the time the boat arrived to take us back to St Mary's we had all the plastics seperated; estimating that only 5.5 black sacks of Marine Debris were not plastics. 

The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust has joined forces with Terracycle in setting up Beach Plastics Recycling for the Islands with our first shipment heading out during October 2017.  

This first shipment is a bit of a trial, where we are sending off already collected beach plastics from this and some previous beach cleans; but once we've got it all set up and seen how it works we hope to be able to do this for all beach plastics collected at future events, and by individuals, across the Islands.

We estimate that about 75% of what we collect, in terms of volume, off of our beaches/coastline is plastic (with a huge proportion of this being plastic bottles) and to be able to do something useful and productive with this marine debris is brilliant!

Further updates will follow regarding how this is progressing and future plans as we work our way through the process but for the time being here are the figures for "Beach Clean for (Chocolate) Brownies".

Not only did "Beach Clean for (Chocolate) Brownies" achieve all this but it's continuing to achieve much, much more and some fantastic collaboration and partnership working is taking place.  

The Great British Beach Clean + Outstanding Week + Funded Boating + Funded Chocolate Brownies + Samson + 23 People = a whole lot of Marine Debris collected, much of which is going to be recycled! 

(Essentially everything in the bags on the left of the picture at the beginning of this article and all of the plastic boxes and crates is being sent off for recycling).


The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended and supported this event but especially the following people and organisations:

  • Russ Thompson and the rest of the Waste Collection Team (Council of the Isles of Scilly) for arranging collection and disposal of the marine debris which isn't being shipped away to be recycled;
  • Becky Lock (Becky’s Scilly Cakes) for stepping up to the challenge of producing many trays of Chocolate Brownies for our intrepid beach cleaners;
  • St Mary's Boatman's Association for perservering and providing boating for the day; making sure that we all got home safely, with our Marine Debris, and didn’t end up stranded.

We would also like to give special thanks to Sue, Gemma and the Freight Team at the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company and Katie & Monika at Terracyle for all the work and collaboration that has gone in to working out the logistics of this (hair-brained) venture! 

Keep an eye out for updates during October regarding how we're all getting on :)