Most of us who work out of the Masstech head office in Whiteley live in the vicinity, which means we’re close to the south coast of the UK, and its beautiful beaches and coastal paths. We’re very fortunate to live and work near to such a lovely part of the world, but it’s all too easy to take this stuff for granted, and to assume that our beaches will always be accessible, clean and in a state that we can continue to enjoy.

We’re all becoming increasingly aware of the amount of plastics and other garbage that finds its way into our planet’s oceans and waterways and onto our shorelines, but we don’t necessarily need blogs, podcasts and internet campaigns to inform us of the depth of the problem; go to pretty much any beach around the UK (and the rest of the world) and you’ll come face to face with large amounts of litter and plastic refuse, most washed up, but plenty more just dumped by visitors.

So, we at Masstech decided to actively do our bit to help out. As well as examining our company’s relationship with the environment, committing to cut our waste output and energy usage, we’re in the process of joining the DPP’s Committed to Sustainability Program to help us focus our efforts – and we’re also organising a series of beach cleans, the first of which was last Friday. We invited the staff from our office, plus family and friends, to spend their lunch time picking up litter at a nearby beach in Warsash, Hampshire.

Armed with very handy litter pickers, gloves and approved garbage sacks loaned by Fareham Borough Council (our thanks to them), a dozen or so of us car-shared down to a wet and windy beach. For the cost of just a few minutes of our time, some ruined hairstyles and a couple of pieces of slightly soiled but salvageable footwear, the beach at Warsash now contains several fewer plastic bottles, a lot less plastic wiring, considerably fewer outcrops of polystyrene, and is now freed from an unexpectedly large amount of unused plastic Rawlplugs – not to mention several kilos of other assorted waste and detritus. While there we happened to bump into local boy and sailing legend Mike Golding (@GoldingMike), Chairman of World Sailing Sustainability Commission; thanks for taking our team photo, Mike.

It’s not much, of course – undoubtedly our few hours has made a tiny dent in the amount of waste on that stretch of beach alone. However, it’s a contribution, and we’ll continue to head off to this and other local beaches over the next few months and years, to keep making similar contributions, however small. But more than the beach cleaning, we’re taking this opportunity to look at the way we interact with the world, as individuals and as an organisation. It may seem obvious (and recently it’s a much banged-on drum) but it’s a message that bears repetition: the best way to keep plastics off our beaches is to keep them out of the ocean, by not dumping them, or even by not using plastics in the first place, if alternatives are available.

Making small changes is easy, and generally doesn’t cost anything except a little bit of thought. And whatever commitment to becoming more environmentally aware we make, we shouldn’t be shy about telling the world! Similar messages may be everywhere, and lots of people may be undertaking huge, impressive projects, that you might think make your efforts seem of little consequence – but every little really does help; and if posting or blogging about a change you’ve made – a beach clean, a commitment to cut waste, or even something as simple as using reusable water bottles or no longer buying plastic straws – if someone else sees that, and is inspired by it to act similarly, that’s when real change begins to happen.

See you on the beach!

Special thanks to the non-Masstechers who joined us: Claire, Erik, Mandy & Woody, and extra thanks to Christiene White, who organised everything so expertly.