Oceans 8 Clean the Beach with Pride

5.30am, the sky a beautiful hue of pink and orange. The sea was as still as a millpond glistening that deep blue grey that it does at that hour.  Looking out to sea you could be transported into natures beauty. Yet you can hear the thud thud thud of a deep bass and as you feel it vibrating through to your core your awareness is brought back to your immediate surroundings.  

It looks like some kind of armogeddon on the beach. Nonsensical creatures with glazed eyes shuffling around the detritus strewn accross the pebbles.  Bins are piled high and overflowing. Broken glass and hot rocks from beach fires are hidden. A potential danger to the families who might shortly appear for a dip, an icecream, and  perhaps some infamous seaside fish and chips.  

And whats this…?  Neon rainbow high viz jackets appear from nowhere. By 6am there are three gazebos erected across two locations and a team of volunteers get to work. Clearing, organising, separating and DANCING!

Oceans 8 Brighton: First ‘Big Heist’

And so, Oceans 8 Brighton pulled off our first heist. A silent disco litter pick in the aftermath of the Brighton Pride celebrations.  On Sunday 4th August, over half of the 1,000 volunteers who had subscribed turned up.

Some volunteers were on Brighton Beach from 7am! Working together to intercept the rubbish that was strewn all over the beach and prevent the  plastic and other rubbish from escaping into the sea. It was totally humbling to see the community spirit involved. All day passers-by, locals and Pride attendees commented on this amazing feat of community spirit in action. Some rubbish rebels even spontaneously joined in to litter-pick on the day.

Stats and Unique Qualities

Just over 2 tonnes of litter was picked up from two separate 1km stretches of Brighton Beach, around 500 bags.  And here’s where we stand out, as all of those bags were then manually sorted by the team to maximise the recycling rate. The mammoth effort enabled 1.5 tonnes of plastics, metal and glass litter to be sent off for recycling and about half a tonne of unrecyclable-litter was sent to be incinerated.

What is Oceans 8 Brighton?

“Ocean’s 8 Brighton was inspired by the Ocean’s 8 Hollywood movie. The idea of a diverse group of women with expertise and experience in a particular field working together to achieve great things was appealing. Our expertise is in environmental issues and we want to use this collaboration to deliver initiatives which engage people. The Big Pride Beach Clean is an excellent example of that.” says Oceans8Brighton founder Melanie Rees of The Brighton Green Centre. (read her blog post about recycling and the origins of Oceans 8 here)

Six months in the making

The Oceans 8 Brighton heist was 6 months in the making and inspired by our consultancy member Amy Gibson’s awesome regular Pier2Pier Silent Disco Brighton Beach Cleans. Pride encouraged attendees to the city-wide weekend celebrations to join up to the Pride Big Beach Clean via their website. Our volunteers came from all walks of life, from local and afar and ranged from 6 month-old babies to Octogenerians. It was a really positive and inclusive event that truly reflects Pride values.

Brighton Pride comment on the beach clean

Paul Kemp, Managing Director, Brighton & Hove Pride CIC said

“Although Pride organises no events on the beach, the beach is always busy on a summers weekend, and in the spirit of collaboration we wanted to support a collective approach to maintaining a cleaner, more sustainable city. Thanks to the hard work of Oceans 8 Brighton and over 1,000 volunteers registered for the Big Pride Beach Clean, all the rubbish was collected and sorted for recycling in just a few hours leaving the beach ready for the weekend visitors to the city. As a thank-you, each volunteer was given a free ticket to LoveBN1Fest with Jessie J, Grace Jones and a whole host of family and community entertainment. Hopefully more local businesses will come on board to support this brilliant collaborative approach and show their civic Pride.”

Unlike most big event cleanups we recycled 75% of the rubbish we collected.

We were able to recycle more plastics than possible locally by collaborating with London based TerraCycle UK. 150kgs of the metal litter-picked from the beach were empty nitrous oxide ‘gas canisters’. We were quite shocked by their proliferation across the beach but our volunteers made the humungous effort to pick them all out of the pebbles. We do not know of any other event that specifically litter-picks for and separates out gas canisters to be recycled.  So we suspect that gas canister mis-use and the consequent waste is prevalent but pretty much hidden usually at other events.  

We also found loads of ‘Lost Property’!  

45 sets of keys, a passport, many drivers licences, debit cards, ping pong balls, a baseball, broken sunglasses, toys, wigs, novelty plastic penis straws, clothing, tiaras, a vegetable peeler, purses and (randomly!) a bed head.  All lost property has either been reunited with owners or is awaiting collection from the Seafront Office on Brighton Beach

Community and team spirit at its best

We are eternally grateful to every single volunteer who joined us and to everyone across Brighton and Hove who picked up any bit of litter they found and took it to a bin or home. and of course to everyone who did not litter over the Pride weekend. Our event is testament that the collective absolutely DOES make a difference. 

Britain’s biggest ever Beach Clean would not have been possible without Brighton Pride and BUPA UK who sponsored the event. Along with the much appreciated logistical support from Brighton and Hove City Council, The Seafront Office and City Clean. 

“Awesome work today by everyone involved, thanks so much for organising such a brilliant response, it’s never been this good.” Charles Branson, Brighton and Hove City Council Seafront Officer 3pm Sunday 3Rd August 2019

Other supporters and invaluable partners:

The Tempest Inn, Brighton Dolphin Project, Lazy Fin Café, Lush cosmetics, Brighton WaterSports, Blue & Bird Tea, Exploring Senses (screen printers), Alex Bamford (photographer), Sussex University Media School, Terracycle UK (recyclers)

This blog was adapted form our official press release written by myself and Cat Fletcher. The Oceans 8 Brighton consultancy are available for more ‘heists’ including consultancy, public speaking and events.  Get in touch via Oceans 8 Brighton or my contact page to explore working with us.

In the media:

In the few days since the event the press have gone completely crazy for it!  I guess that drugs and ‘gays’ are newsworthy but I do think it is a shame that some have tried to link Pride to the drug taking or the mess.  I know that this is a party people issue not a pride issue.  There are folk who come to Pride from all walks of life and sexual preference because they want to come for the party.  There have been comments that the whole event has become pretty corporate and has lost its true origins.

In the UK we have societal issues with drink and drugs and perhaps the powers that be should be looking at the causes of those cultural issues instead of blaming minorities or environmentatlists.  I am a true believer that positive change happens and the public pressure after the Blue Planet series is tesament to that.  So, BBC, Government etc… I appeal to you to start treating these issues as health problems (which is what they are), and start to make the funding available to fix these issues at source.