A PEPSI bottle from 1982 and a diazepam rectal tube – just two items found recently by an intrepid local beach cleaner who logs her unusual discoveries online.
Rachel Laurenson is a keen follower of the #2minutebeachclean movement, which encourages people to take a few moments of their time to collect rubbish from beaches and share pictures of their haul online.
She first came across the initiative in 2014 and is today still raising awareness of the amount of rubbish that gets washed up on Shetland’s beaches, often from abroad.
In the last few weeks Laurenson came across a Pepsi bottle dated from 1982 on Quendale Beach – although due to its condition she reckons it may have been stuck in a sand dune.
Some other unusual finds includes a plastic device for inserting diazepam in the rear, a plastic goose thought to have been used as a decoy in shooting in Canada, and a show shoe.
Other discoveries have included a strip of tablets which are an Indonesian herbal remedy for cholesterol and ‘stamina’, Russian ink pots and shoes from Japan.
That is in addition to the more common finds, like items from American and Canadian fishing, or toothbrushes. Or even toilet brushes – “two on the Hillswick beach in one day”.
“It’s only probably in the last couple of years that I’ve started to think ‘what’s that’ and where’s that come from, taken a photo of it and Googled it,” Laurenson said. “Sometimes I keep the item itself, sometimes I don’t.
“I’m still just doing the two-minute clean – well, sometimes it can be a lot more than two minutes – but whenever we go for a walk or a wander, picking up and logging it just to keep raising awareness on that point.”
The issue of marine pollution and plastic waste has become a hugely topical subject in recent years, with a campaign for instance starting to locally to eradicate single-use plastics.
“These days I cannot go for a walk anywhere shore based and not find a plastic water bottle,” Laurenson added.
“If everybody just eliminated that factor from their lives, essentially these things will stop. Especially in the summer, you do see barbecue rubbish that people can’t be bothered to take back home with them. But generally your snack foods, juice bottle, water bottle, crisp packet, biscuit wrapper – you’re always finding them, whether it be foreign or local, UK makes.”
Laurenson encouraged anyone out walking in Shetland – on a beach or otherwise – to do their bit by picking up any litter they come across.
“I’m generally walking two large dogs and I can still take a bagful home,” she said.
“The two minute idea has kind of expanded – it’s street litter, park litter – it’s in land as well. If we can stop it getting to the sea in the first place. Even if you’re out with your baby in a buggy or with a dog, whoever you see rubbish, just grab it and stick it in the next bin. I always make sure if got a bag in my pocket to fill as I go.”
Anyone wishing to take part in the two minute beach clean initiative is encouraged to share photos online with the hash tag #2minutebeachclean.
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