How to enjoy the seaside in an environmentally friendly way

13 Jul 2023
4 min read
Deckchairs on a British beach

As well as being an expert on climate change with two decades under my belt, I’m also an avid swimmer, which I think, in part, is what’s made me want to protect our coasts. Give me a pool and I’m happy. If it’s the Great British seaside, I’m even happier.

People are staying put in the UK for their holidays because of the warm weather brought on by climate change.

I started my career working in bathing water quality and with over 7,000 miles of coastline in the UK, I’ve spent a long time talking about protecting our seas and helping people know how to do their bit for the environment when they’re using our coasts and accessing our water.

More people than ever visited British coastal and seaside resorts during the pandemic, and it’s a trend that’s continued since 2020, especially with the recent warmer weather the UK has experienced over the last couple of summers.

Temperatures in the UK this summer are set to be some of the hottest on record again with June confirmed as the hottest on record and while people are staying put in the UK for their holidays because of the warm weather brought on by climate change, the fact they’re not flying abroad can only be a good thing. Also blue scapes are the best for improving our mental health.

With that in mind though, we can all make sure our visits to the seaside are environmentally friendly. Little changes and putting a bit more thought into getting there and enjoying the beaches while you’re there can go a long way towards helping the environment.

Think about how you travel there

Most coastal towns and cities have great rail infrastructure.

Kids on a train looking out of the window.

The general UK population first started visiting seaside resorts in the Victorian era and as such most coastal towns and cities have great rail infrastructure. Places like Teignmouth in Devon have a train station just steps from the beach so if you can take a train, do. It’s a more relaxing way to travel as well as being better for the environment. There’s a sleep train from London to Cornwall that I am so keen to try. There are plenty of bus routes across the UK that take in coastal areas too so don’t just rely on tracks, think about buses and coaches too.

If you do have to take the car, make sure it’s full – and I don’t mean with beach balls and wind breakers.

Invite the kids’ friends or offer a lift to a friend. Car travel isn’t great as we know but a full car is better than two people sat in the front. There are lift share websites and social media pages too so it might be you can get a lift yourself rather than driving your own car.

Borrow, don’t buy buckets and spades

Borrow buckets and spades, they’re used so infrequently there’s not much point buying more, look on local websites and social media to see if you can borrow from someone nearby. Ask friends or see if they want to do a timeshare and you can buy one set for your friendship group to all use and share.

Check water quality

It’s worth checking water quality before you go too, especially if there’s been heavy rain as that can be when water quality is compromised. The Government and Surfers Against Sewage have websites you can check.

Don’t bother with costly plastic beach shoes, a pair of old trainers you don’t mind getting wet are just as good for rock pooling.

British cream tea

Contribute to the local economy too

Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures.

While picnics on the beach or local fish and chips are lovely, lots of seaside places have cafes serving local cakes and ice creams that have very few food miles on them as well as supporting the local economy, so you get to eat delicious food while helping the planet – what’s not to love?

Finally make sure you leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures. Take your own litter home if bins are overflowing and if you’re feeling like it, why not grab a few extra bits of litter on the way back?


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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