As the days get longer, and hopefully warmer, students will naturally make use of our town’s most loved assets, the sands. East, West, or Castle, St Andrews is home to three wonderful beaches. Each of the beaches seem very clean compared to others in the UK, however there are still many beach cleans in and around Fife that students can take part in. .
Litter picks are an opportunity to get involved with the local community, whilst tackling the climate crisis. A fourth-year student Archie, who used to partake in litter picks in Hong Kong told The Saint “it makes me angry [that] there is a lot of waste that can be attributed to large corporations”.
For him, the sense of community associated with litter picks alongside their tangible impact on the climate crisis has provided a source of solace. Whilst St Andrews is not scarred by the same volume of litter seen elsewhere in the world, it is important that we are mindful of increasing pollution levels in the sea, and that we take practical steps towards preserving the cleanliness of beaches. That means picking up litter when you see it on your daily dip, or ensuring that each and every can and log are cleared from the beach post barbeque.
One group which shares these clean-beach values is the St Andrews organisation , Transition. On their website, they have kept track of all reported litter picks that have occurred in and around the town. Over this academic year alone, 11 litter picks have taken place, with over 100 people involved in total, and 232kg of waste collected. These figures make for promising reading. Clearly, there is already a large group of individuals attempting to tackle the issue of coastal waste head on, and they have seemingly been very effective in doing so.
Transition’s Sustainable Transport Officer, Andrea Habeshaw, told The Saint that, whilst the beach cleans provide an outlet for community service, litter-picking is only “the tip of the iceberg” in the fight against climate change. As discussed in a previous issue of The Saint, rising sea levels could also have a detrimental impact on our town. Alongside rising sea pollution levels , this means that we could see a drastic increase of litter in our town and on our beaches in the coming years.
More broadly the Transition group is part of a wider Transition network that involves other like-minded groups from around the world. There are over 200 Transition communities. The group in St Andrews is partly funded by the University and partly funded by the Scottish government through the local council. Not only does the Transition group keep track of, and organise, beach cleans and litter picks, but they also put on a variety of other events and projects to help St Andrews become a greener place. Tomorrow, Friday 24 March, there is a March to the meadows. This march is a climate protest against the depletion of meadows across the UK, a growing problem according to Transition’s website which states that the UK has lost over 41% of its ‘native wildlife’ since the 1970s and ‘97% of flower-rich grasslands since the 1930s’. Those attending this demonstration will therefore be calling for greater action from the UK governments to protect and restore these two facets of our ecosystem.
So as the days get warmer, and hopefully longer, be sure to keep the beaches in St Andrews clean and be respectful of the other members of our community who use them. Whether you simply stay vigilant, or actively take part in Transition’s efforts, there are multiple ways you can contribute to the preservation of our beaches. Visit transition’s website to find out more transitionsta.org.
The next one may be at the end of this month in the Guardbridge estuary by the new Eden campus, so stay tuned.
Image: Transition St Andrews