Beach-lovers in Cornwall are being urged to take part in a special series of coastal clean-ups for Valentine’s Day.

Volunteers will be joining forces to clean the county’s coastline as part of Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s annual “Love Your Beach” week.

Hundreds of people will be donning their waterproofs and braving the elements at 14 locations across Cornwall, including Looe, Mounts Bay, Newquay, Hayle and the Helford.

This year’s events, which run from February 11 to 19, will see volunteer citizen scientists scouring the shore in search of microplastics.

The data will be collated and analysed by the CPPC – a network of 60 anti-litter organisations, beach cleaning groups and marine scientists – with the hope of identifying areas of Cornwall’s coastline which are most at risk from microplastic pollution.

Katie Bellman, community engagement officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Your Shore project, said: “Love Your Beach is all about community spirit – it’s local people coming together to look after their area.

“Our amazing Your Shore Network volunteers selflessly give up their time to protect our coast and the incredible creatures that call it home, clocking up thousands of hours.

“They’re a crucial part of Love Your Beach and inspiring others to get involved in marine conservation here in Cornwall.

“Collecting microplastics not only gives us data on this kind of pollution, but it also shows just how much communities in Cornwall care about this ongoing plastic problem and how they want to see more action taken to address it.”

Microplastics are a type of marine plastic measuring less than five millimetres long.

They are a lot harder to clean up than larger pieces of plastic and pose a serious threat to marine life and human health.

Delia Webb, founder and co-ordinator of the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition (CPPC), said: “Microplastics can stay in the environment forever – breaking down into tinier and tinier pieces over time. This year’s Love Your Beach will help us sample more of these microplastic fragments and pellets from a wider range of locations across Cornwall, to understand which areas are more prone to having microplastics present.

“We need solutions to prevent microplastics entering our environment in the first place, so that we can make our beaches in Cornwall and around the world safe for all creatures. We hope to share the results later on this year.”

In 2019, CPPC members removed 80 tonnes of rubbish – equalling approximately 80,000kg – from Cornish beaches.

In the same year, 104 seals were entangled with marine litter, according to Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s State of Nature Report.

More recently, sightings of large marine mammals in Cornish waters, including humpback whales, have made headline news.

However, research published last year in California estimated these large, fish-feeding whales could be ingesting around 200,000 pieces of microplastic per day.

For more information about the events, visit

Love Your Beach Week 2023 is funded by South West Water and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.