Some activists argue that such volunteer clean-ups are not the best way to tackle the plastic pollution that is choking rivers, destroying once-beautiful beaches and costing the lives of whales, seabirds and other wildlife.
Critics argue that public cleanups do not address the root causes of this pollution. Cleaning a beach is not turning the tide, they say, because the tide will just come in again, depositing more plastic cups, bottles, straws, bags and discarded fishing equipment. What we need to do, they argue, is reduce unnecessary plastic at source, design less harmful products and develop better recycling processes.
The UN Environment Agency says YES!
But in an article published in 2018, the UNEP says there is compelling evidence that cleanup campaigns (such as the Great British September Clean) do make a difference and not just in the short term.
Every piece of trash that is taken away to be recycled or deposited in a landfill means there is one less dangerous item for wild or domestic animals to swallow or get injured by. Cleanups also restore wild creatures’ habitats as well as making the countryside more beautiful.
Volunteer cleanups protect wildlife, create momentum, raise awareness and save threatened habitats. It is nonetheless critical to make sure one seeks a long-term cure even while dealing with the symptoms of this toxic pollution.