About us

We are a grassroots movement that has grown into one of the UK’s most active and successful environmental charities.

We’re a community dedicated to the protection of oceans, waves, beaches and wildlife.  We fight long and hard to protect what we love and we won’t stop until it’s completely clean, safe and protected for everyone, forever.

From humble beginnings in Porthtowan Village Hall in 1990, we’ve stayed close to our roots and continue to be based just up the road at our St Agnes HQ where we can keep an eye on the sea.

Just 12 of us work in the office full time, but it’s really thanks to people like you who support our work through membership donations, volunteering, signing petitions, buying from our shop and spreading the word that allows our impact to be widely felt.

12

Staff

125

volunteer regional reps

420

Beach cleans organised so far in 2017

This is a local grassroots environmental charity that has come to fruition, and flourished, through the commitment, passion, belligerence and belief of some individuals who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
— Gary, SAS member and fundraiser

Not just surfers, not just sewage.

We began as a response by the surfing community to the dreadful state of our beaches. Those hardy souls who ventured into the water back then often found themselves swimming in raw sewage. There’s tales of sanitary towels on heads and human poo sandwiched between bodies and boards. Completely unacceptable.

The campaign grew loud, proud and strong and thanks to the passion and perseverance of our members — the UK now enjoys some of the cleanest beaches in Europe.

Of course it’s not just surfers who care passionately about our coastlines — our members are swimmers, dog walkers, paddleboarders, beach cleaners, kite surfers, sandcastle builders, ice cream eaters and sun bathers too. We protect it because we love it and that’s where we feel most at home.

We’ll always care about Water Quality issues and our Safer Seas Service continually monitors sewage spills in real time on beaches around the UK. But ‘Plastic is the new sewage’ as it is now the biggest threat to our beaches, our precious marine eco-system and our happiness.

Plastic Free Coastlines

Our priority going forward is to fight the plastic pollution that blights our beaches and strangles our seashores.

We adopt a two-pronged approach:

  1. Stopping the problem at source.
    By tackling society’s throwaway culture when it comes to single-use plastics, we aim to change consumer behaviour and industry standards. Solutions like a Deposit Return System (DRS) would stop millions of pieces of plastic from entering the ocean eco-system in the first place.
  2. Cleaning up pollution from our beaches.
    We’re a movement of do-ers, not just talkers. So we organise more beach cleans than any other charity in the UK. These events galvanise communities into action – protecting their local beaches for everyone to enjoy.

More than 17,000 people took part in our 2017 Big Spring Beach Clean

I would like to say from a Portland resident a big THANK YOU for the wonderful job your guys and gals did today on cleaning Chesil Cove area, my wife and I managed to chat to a few of them, great people and thanks once again.
— Steve Chester

Successes & Challenges

  • 98.5% of England’s bathing waters passed the Bathing Water Directive’s minimum standards in 2016, compared to what would have been only 27% in 1990 when we started campaigning on the sewage issue.
  • Our supporters helped campaign for the plastic bag charge which has already taken out over 6 billion plastic bags from the environment!
  • Throwaway plastic pollution is our new sewage. 12 million tonnes of marine litter and plastic enter the oceans every year.
  • Our beach clean volunteer community is the biggest in the UK!
  • Over 225,000 people have joined us in calling for a deposit return system to stop plastic bottle pollution.