Free wooden bellyboards for hire in push against pollution

  • Published
Body boardsImage source, Ocean Recovery Project
Image caption,
Campaigners are trying to turn the annual "tidal wave" of discarded bodyboards

Wooden bodyboards will be rented out for free in an attempt to cut polystyrene pollution.

Campaigners say thousands of polystyrene body boards are discarded every year at beaches in the UK, sometimes after one use.

North Devon resort Westward Ho! has already banned the sale of the boards.

A number of shops in Devon, Cornwall, Sussex and Pembrokeshire will now offer wooden bellyboards for free hire as a "sustainable" alternative.

Image source, Rob Booth
Image caption,
Boards discarded at Porth near Newquay where wooden bodyboards are being hired out for free

In Croyde, north Devon, more than 400 boards were discarded on the beach in 2020 and in Newquay beach rangers estimate 20 boards are thrown away every day in the holiday season.

Image source, Evie Johnstone
Image caption,
Wooden bodyboards are being rented out for free

Jamie Johnstone at Dick Pearce Bellyboards of Newquay is sending wooden bellyboards to 10 surf shops to be rented out for free.

"People can borrow them every day but the idea is that they will realise how much fun they are and that they will last forever," said Mr Johnstone.

"I live in Newquay and I got so fed up with seeing all the polystyrene boards being dumped on the beach, there is quite an obvious problem."

Image source, Dick Pearce Bellyboards
Image caption,
Jamie Johnstone of Dick Pearce Bellyboards said the annual sight of dumped bodyboards was an "obvious problem"

A free board rental scheme in Westward Ho! has been set up by the Plastic Free Torridge campaign group.

It said more than 16,000 cheap polystyrene bodyboards were discarded on UK beaches every year.

Spokesman Andrew Cross said: "They are poor value and bad for the environment.

"Polystyrene is fragile and crumbles easily posing a danger to sea and shore life alike."

Kitemare store in Westward Ho! is hiring out 12 free wooden boards from Wet Dog Bellyboards, designed by local schoolchildren.

Image source, Plastic Free Torridge
Image caption,
Children have decorated wooden bellyboards which are being hired out for free at Westward Ho!

Big wave surfer Andrew Cotton from nearby Braunton, is hoping other resorts will join the charge against the tide of polystyrene bodyboards.

He said: "Everyone is waking up to single use plastic so why shouldn't single use bodyboards be the same?

"The amount of bodyboards collected on the beaches is insane so it's definitely time to change our habits."

Image source, Matt Mario
Image caption,
One Devon resort has already banned the sale of polystyrene bodyboards

Neil Hembrow of Keep Britain Tidy said polystyrene bodyboards were "like a tidal wave of waste washed up on beaches".

He said: "But a culture change is happening, we are now seeing moves by communities to stop the use of these polystyrene boards and if the pressure grows then hopefully we can get a complete ban."

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