HUNDREDS of volunteers gave up their free time to help clean Bournemouth beach at the weekend.

The community pier to pier beach clean, organised by Plastic Free Bournemouth as part of a Surfers Against Sewage initiative, proved a big success, with 70 bags of rubbish removed in just three hours.

Imogen Charleston, who organised the event alongside Ruby Free, told the Daily Echo: “I set up Plastic Free Bournemouth in August, last year. It was just a social media platform at the time, set up in partnership with some friends who established Wimborne War on Waste.

“It was originally Bournemouth War on Waste but I changed the name to focus the group specifically on plastics, and also to align with the Surfers Against Sewage’ Plastic Free Coastline initiative.”

Sundays’s beach clean, which started at Boscombe Pier in the morning, was initially planned for March, but was called off because of the snowy conditions at that time.

Imogen continued: “There has been an amazing turnout, this is to bring people together and look at what we can all do to make a change. The fact that this issue is being picked up by the media more now, that it is being talked about more often, shows things are changing.

“Waitrose have just announced they will only give free refills to people who bring their own coffee cups, which is really encouraging.

“Wetherspoons say they will ditch all their plastic straws. And a lot of smaller, local businesses are doing things to help - such as using compostable coffee cups.

“What I want to do is to create a small action group to work together to help encourage businesses to look at alternatives to plastics.”

Among the many people taking part in Sunday’s beach clean was Shania Lockyer - Miss Dorset finalist 2018.

Shania was involved because as part of her year long pledge is to create a drinking straw free zone on the beach.

According to the environment organisation, Surfers Against Sewage, the world’s oceans contain approximately 51 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic, tipping the scales at 269,000 tonnes - about the same as 1,345 adult blue whales.

Naturalist David Attenborough, in the closing scenes of his powerful documentary series, Blue Planet II, made a plea for humanity to act now to protect our oceans, and the marine life they support, from the deadly threat of plastic.

“The future of all life now depends on us,” he warned.

Imogen said: “I’ve been to beach clean events previously, and they get a good turnout but it is usually people who are already that way inclined.

“Now, it is clear the Blue Planet affect has made a huge difference.

“This is a big, global issue. I would love Bournemouth Council to introduce a blanket ban on all plastic bags in local shops, but it doesn’t work like that. Things evolve more slowly, step-by-step.

“But it is important to remember little changes can make huge differences.”