Map Pin - RGB-19
Map Pin - RGB-19

Washed Up On Mersea Island

MICROPLASTIC Collected by Andre and Katie

31st march 2o19

On Mothering Sunday in 2019, Katie and Andre from Replastic kickstarted Replastic’s Washed Up campaign. They spent a short while on West Mersea beach, collecting washed up plastic litter that was small enough to fit inside a bottle. What they found was amazing, but scary. There was no need to look far to find a brightly coloured piece of plastic litter.

By using a standard kitchen sift, they were able to collect tiny bits of plastic that they might of otherwise missed when doing a normal litter pick. The scary thing was that no matter the location of where they chose to sift through the sand, they still found tiny little beads of plastic that had likely broken down from larger pieces of plastic litter.

You can see an example of that process below with a short video taken when collecting the plastic.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MERSEA

West Mersea is a small town on Mersea Island, located on the east coast of England, just short distance from Replastic’s home in Colchester. The town is well known across the UK and beyond for it’s famous oysters, which were a supposed favourite of the Roman civilisation that settled in Colchester some 2000 years ago.

Oysters are filter feeders, and so the existence of microplastic in the water poses a real threat to their population. 

A study in 2016 revealed the devastating effects microplastic has on oyster fertility. The study found that oysters exposed to polstyrene between 2 and 6 micrometres produced 41% less larvae, and they grew to be 18% smaller than those in the control group. (1)

Polystyrene is one of the most commonly used plastic across the world, and is often found littered on this beach. Expanded polystyrene is good at insulating, so it is regularly used to box caught fish. It is also a common use of packaging and takeaway boxes. Expanded polystrene also breaks down into microplastic extremely quickly and so is especially damaging to the environment. 

West Mersea
West Mersea Oyster

local action

West Mersea has a brilliant community that works hard to look after it’s beaches and wildlife. One of the most active groups is Proud of Mersea. Their mission is to make Mersea Island the first litter free island in the UK. They are working to achieve this goal by regularly doing litter picks, educating local groups, and lobbying for better waste & recycling provisions to support the tourist boom in summer.

They are always looking for volunteers to make their vision a reality, and have a variety of roles available. To find out more click on the button below to go to their website.

 

CITATIONS

(1) PNAS, Oyster reproduction is affected by exposure to polystyrene microplastics, 1st February 2016, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1519019113