'Don't make Easter rubbish': Wildlife appeal for people not to litter as lockdown eases

A seal surrounded by litter on the beach. Credit: Sea Life Aquarium/Sea Life Trust.

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease slightly over the Easter Holidays there's a warning about the problems that litter can cause for wildlife.

Marine experts from the Sea Life Trust which runs fifteen aquariums across the UK including in Hunstanton and Great Yarmouth, are appealing for people to bin their litter or take it home with them. 

Last summer when lockdown eased there was a rise in people littering. Now there's concern over disposable face masks which if they get into the sea or rivers can cause harm to wildlife.

We’ve witnessed first-hand the worrying effects last year’s restrictions relaxation had on the amount of litter making its way into our waterways. By raising awareness with this campaign we hope to stop this happening again, with everyone doing their bit to make a positive difference to marine creatures and their habitats.

Nigel Croasdale, General Manager at SEA LIFE Hunstanton
Seal injured by discarded wire/netting. Credit: Sea Life, Hunstanton

The effects of last year's easing of lockdown over the summer from city canals to rural beaches, saw a surge in litter being found in waters across the country.

Now SEA LIFE aquariums and their official charity the SEA LIFE Trust have launched the ‘Don’t Make Easter Rubbish’ campaign to prevent it happening again.

Last year, after restrictions eased we saw wave after wave of litter and rubbish being left after people began exploring outside again. If left lying around, all this rubbish can make its way into our precious waters, having the devastating effect of polluting the home of thousands of animals and causing immediate danger to life for those caught up in it.

Andy Bool, Head of the SEA LIFE Trust

There's a particular concern surround disposable face masks. The Marine Conservation Society found them on 30 per cent of all beaches last year.

450 years

For a disposable face mask to break down

The time it takes for the following to biodegrade:

  • Cigarette butts – 10+ years 

  • Coffee cup – 50 years

  • Plastic bags – 20-50 years

  • Crisp packet – 80+ years

  • Straws – 200 years

  • Plastic bottles - average 450-1000 years

  • Single use face masks – 450+ years