Artist Fran Crowe completes litter marathon

Posted: 24 September 2007

When artist Fran Crowe embarked on a challenge to pick up 46,000 pieces of litter off beaches near her Suffolk home last September, little did she realise quite how long it would take her! Now, almost exactly one year later, Fran has finally collected her 46,000th piece of litter, having walked more than 202 km on Suffolk beaches for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Coastal Challenge in the process.

Fran and the 46,000th piece of litter
Fran and the 46,000th piece of litter
Fran and the 46,000th piece of litter.
Fran took up her challenge after reading a United Nations report which estimated that, on average, there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter per square mile of ocean worldwide. Fran was horrified, and vowed to do something about it - both by clearing an estimated 295 kg of rubbish from local beaches, and by raising funds to help the Marine Conservation Society tackle marine litter at source.

Whilst walking, Fran has raised over £700 for the Marine Conservation Society through sponsorship and sale of her unique seaside 'souvenirs'. 'As well as countless plastic bags and packaging, I have found an unbelievable selection of things on the beach', says Fran, 'a snapshot of almost everything we use - toys, kitchen things, lightbulbs, shotgun cartridges, toiletries and DIY - you name it, it's all there and in large quantities too!'

Fran's challenge is part of the MCS Coastal Challenge, which has just entered its second year following a fantastically varied first year - challenges have included coastal walks, diving challenges, triathlons, swimming and island sailing. With the help of people like Fran who care about the future of our seas, shores and wildlife MCS aim to cover the entire distance around the beautiful UK coastline (18,470 km or 11,477 miles) before World Oceans Day on June 8th 2008.

Some of Fran's plastic litter
Some of Fran's plastic litter
Some of Fran's plastic litter.
Fran says, 'I'd like to think I have made a difference but every time I visit the beach there is more to collect - alone my efforts are literally just a drop in the ocean. I'm pleased to have met my 46000 challenge but there is no way I am going to be able to stop, knowing the harm that plastic bags and balloons, in particular, can do to wildlife. I'd like to encourage everyone to try and make a difference because the worst thing is that the plastic never really disappears. Once in the sea, it can take up to a thousand years to break down and even then it remains in tiny microscopic particles that in the end enter our food chain. If only everyone could try to avoid buying plastics for disposable items and always take their rubbish home, it would make a massive difference.'

Fran picked up her last piece of litter on Clean Up the World Weekend (14-16 September, an annual event sponsored by the UN Environmental Programme involving an estimated 35 million people across the planet.

Clean up the world
Clean up the world
Clean Up The World campaign.