A bottle of dishwashing liquid dating back at least 47 years has washed up on a beach in Somerset, England, prompting calls for action to combat the “modern-day scourge” – plastic.
The Burnham Coastguard rescue team noticed a significant amount of debris on the shore, washed in by the tides over several days. Most of it was natural, but there were plenty of man-made items too, they said.
In a Facebook post, the team said the beach warden spotted the well-preserved bottle of Fairy liquid, with its printed labelling still mostly intact.
The bottle was marked “4D OFF”, dating the bottle to before the 1971 decimalisation of Britain’s currency, according to the BBC. The letter D was the symbol for pence at that time.
“This bottle has been floating around in our waters and still looks almost new,” the rescue team said.
“What can we do about this modern-day scourge?”
The post answered its own question, issuing a few recommendations, including urging people to join local beach clean-up efforts and to “be mindful of what we flush down our toilets, cotton buds are the worst offenders.”
“Small changes by everyone can make a big difference to our beautiful planet and even to our very own stretch of coast, so let’s make a difference together,” the team said.
In a comment on the post, the rescue team said the bottle was “disposed of in a correct manner”.
“In hindsight it would’ve been good to keep it and use it to show how long it takes to break down,” the team said.
A UNESCO report stated that plastic debris killed more than one million seabirds each year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals.
About eight million tonnes of plastic went into the ocean in 2010, according to a comprehensive 2015 study of plastic pollution.
The study’s co-author, Dr Chris Wilcox, said Australia produced a total of 13,888 tonnes of plastic litter each year, a quarter of which found its way into waterways.
Australia is among a growing number of countries to take steps to reduce plastic pollution, enacting a single-use plastic bag ban on July 1.