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13 November 2014

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You are in: Suffolk > Nature > Nature features > Walking to save some sea

Walking to save some sea

Artist Fran Crowe was so dismayed when she learned that on average there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter per square mile of ocean worldwide, that she made up her mind to do something about it! Fran resolved to 'save' one square mile of ocean.

Fran collects the 46,000th piece of litter

Back in November 2006, Fran aimed to collect 46,000 pieces of rubbish whilst walking on beaches near her home in Suffolk - raising funds for the Marine Conservation Society's Coastal Challenge in the process.

Ten months later, on Wednesday 12 September 2007, Fran picked up her 46,000th piece on a trip to Orford Ness.

"So much rubbish gets washed up there, particularly lightbulbs with unbroken glass for some reason," Fran says. "It was a beautiful sunny day and I picked up over 1000 pieces of rubbish.

"It's the most beautiful spot but the beach is covered with rubbish."

Despite reaching her landmark, Fran remains concerned about the threat posed by rubbish on our county's beaches: "It's just a drop in the ocean. I've collected 46,000 pieces of rubbish but I can still walk on any beach in Suffolk and pick up over 500 pieces."

Plastic remains Fran's number one concern, quoting research which suggests that it takes up to 1000 years for plastic to decompose in the sea - twice as long as on land.

"I'd like people to think twice about the plastic they use - it's fine for things which you'll keep for a long time, but the average plastic bag will only be used for 12 minutes."

'A present from Dunwich'

One of Fran's recycled souvenir packs

The distance Fran has covered is part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Coastal Challenge which hopes to have enough people taking part to have covered the entire distance around our beautiful UK coastline - 18,470 km (11,477 miles) - and to have raised £50,000 towards their vital work.

Bethan Jones, MCS Litter Projects Co-ordinator said: "Marine litter is a huge global problem which MCS has been tackling for over a decade by co-ordinating the national Adopt-a-Beach and Beachwatch cleanup and survey projects.

"We are really grateful for Fran's support and think that her great idea and original approach will help raise awareness of beach litter. It just goes to show that we can all do our bit to help."

Fran adds: "I have found some pretty amazing things on my walks - as well as the usual hundreds of bottle tops, balloons and bits of fishing line, I have found a crisp packet which is over 32 years old (it had an offer with an end date of 1974!) and a carved plaque which I have traced back to a maritime artist and woodcarver in Annapolis, Maryland, USA."

Artwork by Fran Crowe

Plastic litter turned into art

In a further show of environmental awareness, Fran has used collected litter to create pieces of art. These have already been shown at Babylon in Ely and will soon be appearing at Languard Fort in Felixstowe.

More information can be found on Fran's website, which is linked to on the right>>

For further information regarding beach litter and the Coastal Challenge, see or contact the MCS Press Office on 01989 566017.
The above article was originally written in November 2006 and revisited in September 2007 as Fran reached her target.

last updated: 30/06/2009 at 11:18
created: 06/11/2006

Have Your Say

Are we doing enough to preserve our coastline?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Fantastic stuff... I started collecting rubbish when walking my dog on the beach a couple of months ago and gather a couple of bin-bags each morning.I heard about you on radio 4 and will look up the art installations with interest..

Well done on collect 46,000 piece of rubbish, I have really found this very interesting and has help me in my current project I am doing to pass a college course. Recycle is something I really enjoy as a subject and feel that if artist, media, etc work in this area of field it will keep it in the public eye and more people will recycle.

CALLEN [The Voice]
Well done Fran For reminding us we should have a social conscience about our environment. I fear it will fall on deaf ears but I feel its a sin how we treat our environment..blame the throwaway self indulgent culture thats gripped this country the past 20yrs which is another great american export. CALLEN [The Voice]

There is in the long run very little we can do prevent change, as if we protect one area it increases the erosion on other areas. As has often been found out, we can't control nature.

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