SWATHES of nature-loving parents led by example yesterday as they combed Southsea Seafront in a battle against plastic waste.
They were among hundreds of environmentally-savvy volunteers who got stuck in as the coastal beauty spot hosted Surfers Against Sewage’s Big Spring Beach Clean.
Organisers gave a safety briefing, before dishing out gloves, litter pickers and refuse sacks and sending supporters away to trawl the coastline for pollutants.
Staggered by recent television shows highlighting the danger plastic poses to marine life, it was Andrea Croft’s first beach clean.
She took along her two boys – Riley, who is nine, and four-year-old Jack.
‘We’ve never done a beach clean before, but I really wanted to get the boys involved and let them understand the dangers of leaving rubbish on the beach when they come and visit,’ the 53-year-old from Southsea said.
‘We come to the beach right through the year and we love it, but I just think you’ve got to keep your own city as clean as you can to encourage other people from further afield to come along as well.’
As well as tidying up, visitors were tasked to crack down on plastic pollution at the source by recording the branding on the materials they picked up.
It is hoped the data can be compiled by Surfers Against Sewage so it can challenge government and big business leaders.
Seven-year-old Neve Lodge from Drayton, who also took part in Saturday’s clean, is no stranger to confronting firms on their plastic usage.
Recalling a recent visit to a city seafood restaurant, she said: ‘I asked for something to drink and they ended up putting a plastic straw in there.
‘I didn’t want it, so I took all of the plastic straws out of our cups and gave them back.
‘It made me feel upset because when I see plastic straws it makes me think of fish getting hurt.’
Adam Sennitt,the Portsmouth representative for Surfers Against Sewage, said it was ‘absolutely brilliant’ that so many like Neve turned up to help with Saturday’s effort.
‘About three years ago, there were about 50 odd people who came to this beach clean,’ the 29-year-old said.
‘Last year there was 200 – and now there’s that if not more.’
He added: ‘It’s absolutely brilliant to see so many people in the community who want to get involved.’
The Big Spring Beach Clean will also take place at the Seafarers Sailing Club in Fareham on Saturday April 13, from 10am until 1pm, and from 10.30am until 12.30pm on April 28 at the Ferryboat Inn, on Hayling Island.