For the little seaside town of Margate, located on England’s southeast coast, the unprecedented rise in beach-seeking summer tourists has resulted in a big litter problem. In response, Margate’s community beach clean-up group, RISE UP. CLEAN UP. (RUCU) devised a creative solution to fight plastic pollution and visibly communicate the problem to tourists — through art!
Margate’s Growing Plastic Pollution Problem
Since the easing of lockdowns and restrictions throughout the UK, Margate’s golden beaches have experienced a massive boom in tourism. With its easy transport links to London, Margate has become the obvious summer holiday destination for lockdown-fatigued Brits over the past year.
But… Margate’s infrastructure has struggled to cope with the influx of tourists, and local authorities have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of plastic litter on the beaches. That’s precisely why RUCU was created! The community-driven social initiative has a clear mission to clean up Margate’s beaches, protect the local coastline, ocean and native wildlife — and importantly — show tourists the negative impact that their litter has on Margate’s beautiful beaches. Amazingly, in just one year, RUCUs team of volunteers collected 3,000kgs of plastic litter from Margate’s beaches!
RUCU’s Eye-Opening Art Exhibition
Described by RUCU as “playful and informative”, the art installation featured in Margate Train Station visually depicts the quantity of rubbish picked up in a single day on Margate’s beaches. Hiding behind the beautifully designed, pastel-coloured set is a glass case filled with 75 bags worth of rubbish. It’s not just filled with food packets, either. There’s kids’ floaty rings, plastic spades — even toy NERF guns.
The installation was designed as a collaboration between RUCU co-founder, Amy Cook, and local design agency, Because Creative. The installation will remain in Margate Train Station for the duration of the summer, which can see up to 1,500 visitors passing through per hour!
That’s a lot of eyeballs looking at the art installation! Hopefully, it’ll be eye-opening enough for tourists to adopt better habits.
Keeping Margate’s Beaches Beautiful
RUCU emphasises that the purpose of the art installation is to keep Margate’s beaches beautiful! “This isn't about shaming people, or preaching to them,” says RUCU’s co-founder, Alanna McGill Tag. “It's about creating a positive message which conveys what Margate means to its community, how hard we work to protect the beaches, and how we can all play a role in keeping Margate beautiful.”
In an Instagram post celebrating the launch of the completed installation, @riseupcleanup mentioned that “When it comes to littering, education is key and RUCU believe that enforcement and fines can only go so far. Understanding the impact that your litter has on the immediate and wider environment is crucial for affecting long-lasting behaviour change”. Alongside the amazing exhibition, RUCU volunteers have placed free litter bags and more bins around to reduce excess litter.
Take 3 For The Sea To End Plastic Pollution!
Since beginning in July 2020, RUCU has conducted 17 community beach clean-up events and collected 437 bags of rubbish — or 3,000kgs of litter. How inspiring is that?
If you live in a coastal area in Australia, chances are you’ll find a local beach clean-up event that you can attend. Organisations like Clean Up Australia and Sea Shepherd hold them fairly often, and you can find lots of locally organised events via Facebook!
There is, however, one very simple thing we can do every time we go to the beach: Take 3 For The Sea! It’s pretty simple — take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere, and you have made a difference. By picking up an empty water bottle, a chip packet, a straw — or whatever else you can find — you’re helping to end plastic pollution and keep marine wildlife safe!
How amazing is this art installation! We’re in awe of the work that RISE UP. CLEAN UP. is doing to keep their local beaches beautiful. Plus, we appreciate their creative approach to educate tourists about their littering habits.
We’d love to see similar art installations dotted around Australia’s coastal towns!
Are you inspired to keep your local area beautiful and free of litter? Check out the blogs below for more inspiration on how to do so.