Two-thirds of the 2,000 polled also thought litter had increased during lockdown – possibly due to discarded facemasks and gloves. SAS kicked off the crusade with a 50-yard piece of beach art at Cayton Bay in Scarborough highlighting the scourge of plastic pollution in the sea.
It shows a seal with a plastic ring round its neck and a discarded fishing net over its flippers. The seal was lying on a beach littered with plastic bags, discarded face masks and bottles.
Earlier this week a seal with a plastic ring round her neck was rescued in Norfolk.
The white ring had been choking her for more than two years, earning her the nickname, Mrs Vicar.
When it was removed there was a three inch deep wound caused by the plastic biting into her neck as her flesh grew over it.
The seal is being cared for at RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre, in west Norfolk.
SAS hope to inspire 100,000 Britons to clean up their local beach, riverbank, street or green space.
Over the coming year SAS hope that one million miles will be cleaned up, reconnecting us with nature and the environment as we emerge from lockdown.
The scheme will run throughout the UN Decade of Ocean Science, delivering a ten million mile clean up by 2030, in line with SAS’s goal of ending plastic pollution on UK beaches by 2030.
Backed by the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, the first week of action will take place between the May 15-23.
The SAS survey found that on an average walk people spot more than 10 pieces of plastic or litter – which suggests there could be 500 million bits scattered across the UK.
Earlier this week the UOcean Project said the weekend following next Monday’s steps out of lockdown could see 40 million pieces of litter being dropped, making it the worst weekend on record.
Every year about eight million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans and work their way into the food chain.
Hugo Tagholm, the Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage, said: “The ocean is under threat and we are running out of time to save it.
“We want to inspire an army of ocean activists to join the cause and put an end to plastic pollution in the UK.
“After more than a year of isolation, social distancing and reduced physical activity, the Million Mile Beach Clean reconnects communities with the environment and provides numerous benefits to mental health and physical wellbeing.
“Sign up and get involved today and together we can make a difference.”
Richard Walker, IFCF Trustee and Managing Director of Iceland Foods, added: “As a surfer, beach user and business leader, I believe it is imperative that we protect and restore our oceans as they are essential for all life on earth. The Million Mile Beach Clean is an opportunity to make a positive impact in reducing the impact of plastic pollution across the UK. I can’t wait to be a part of the biggest community clean up ever.”
• To take part please go to beachcleans.org.uk