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What’s in your holiday luggage? And how you can help keep our beaches clean.


Don't let plastic pollution spoil your holiday.

If you travel then you can’t fail to have noticed the amount of plastic pollution ending up on beaches in Europe and the UK.

According to a new marine litter report from The Marine Conservation Society, which surveyed 301 beaches in September 2014, the number of pieces of litter, on average, per Km of UK coastline surveyed is now up to 2457. That's a rise of 6% from 2013.

You can read the full report here.

That’s a shocking amount of litter, isn’t it? And no one wants their holiday ruined by unsightly litter. Nobody wants to sit among piles of plastic pollution.

We certainly don’t.

But what can you do about beach litter? You could join in with a beach clean or take part in a #2minutebeachclean. That would help to make a difference on the ground. But what about in your everyday life? Could the contents of your holiday luggage make a difference to the beaches? Or could your daily habits make a difference?

The answer is yes. Everything you do can have either a positive impact or a negative impact on our beaches. How?

Making small changes to make a difference

Lots of everyday toiletries, such as plastic cotton bud sticks and plastic sanitary products end up on British and European beaches. In the MCS report there was an increase in wet wipes found, with 35, on average found per Km of beach surveyed. Wet wipes don’t disintegrate in water like loo paper does, so if you flush them, they can end up on the beach. The thing to do is to put them in the bin or, better still, don’t use them. It’s the same with plastic cotton bud sticks. If they are flushed they can get through the sewerage system and end up on the beach. Likewise single use plastic tampon applicators. The solution is to seek out products that are made of cardboard, which disintegrates easily in water and won’t end up spoiling your beach time.

Another problem in the seas are beauty products that use microbeads. These tiny bits of plastic (eww!!!) that act as exfoliants are so tiny that they cannot be trapped by sewerage systems and end up in the water come what may. Best solution? Don’t buy products that use them.

Why avoiding single use products makes a difference

Another problem on beaches is plastic bottles. They can last for years and years (perhaps hundreds) in the ocean and break down into tiny pieces that you may see on the shoreline. Apart from not being very pretty they also cause problems to wildlife. So, if you can, try to make sure you recycle any single use bottles, or, better still, try not to use them at all. A reusable water container in your luggage will make a difference, as will a 'bag for life'! Plastic bags end up on the beach in their thousands every year and will kill animals if they are ingested. Besides, if you travel to places like Ireland where you have to pay for plastic bags, you'll save money too!!

Oh, and one last thing. If you are concerned about drinking tap water abroad, don’t be. This guide, from gives you a full run down of the state of tap water in Europe. Much of it is perfectly drinkable. But if you are genuinely worried, you could always take water purification tablets. As well as ensuring your tap water is safe to drink they will also save you a small fortune in bottled water.

Heading to the beach this summer? Get a travel insurance quote now.

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