Lagos Coastal Plastic Search

Lagos Plastic Search

Each year 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into our oceans. Not only does this tragically kill animals and marine life but it also destroys people’s livelihoods by wrecking things such as fishing boats.

Plastic is now in every ocean and sea reaching even the most remote parts of the Arctic Sea Ice.


Basic household objects can take hundreds of years to decompose. Below is a small list of household items and their decomposition times.

  • Plastic Bags – 500 to 1000 years
  • Styrofoam – 500 years
  • Nappies (Diapers) – 500 years
  • Plastic Bottles – 450 years
  • Aluminium Cans – 200 years

Check out the bottom of this article to see a few top tips on how to reduce your plastic usage and save a few quid whilst you do it!


No matter where I travel, I see the odd bit of rubbish, some countries worse than others. Now, I’ve not (yet) travelled to every inch of the planet, but by far, here in Lagos, Nigeria, the plastic waste is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

Nigeria produces 2.5 tonnes of plastic waste per year with a huge 70% of this ending up in landfills, sewers, beaches and water bodies. You literally cannot look outside without seeing rubbish. The biggest offenders….. plastic bottles and Styrofoam containers.

Plastic Waste
This barely scrapes the surface with the amount of waste all around Lagos.

At work, I am part of the Greening Committee and it was through here that I learned about the Lagos Coastal Plastic Search initiative ran by the Mental and Environment Development Initiative for Children (Medic NG). Volunteers were drafted from far and wide between 21st and 27th November 2020 to complete operation plastic search and pick up. At the start of each day we were all to pledge to stop using single use plastics, do you think you could do the same?

Below is the schedule, photos and stats of what was collected.

Day 1 0700- 1500: Started with cleaning Five Cowrie Creek and Ozumba Mbadiwe to Oriental Hotel

  • Recyclable Plastic – 388.3kg
  • Contaminated Plastic – 105.2kg
  • Total Amount of Plastic – 493.5kg
  • Marine Waste – 0kg
  • Total amount of volunteers – 84
  • Most interesting find – Math set Stencil

Day 2 0700- 1500: Continuation of cleaning Five Cowrie Creek and Ozumba Mbadiwe to Oriental Hotel

  • Recyclable Plastic – 319.4kg
  • Urine Contaminated Plastic – 23kg – liquid content 2300cl which is 46x 50cl of urine!!!
  • Total Amount of Plastic – 320.1kg
  • Marine Waste – 43.7kg
  • Total amount of volunteers – 28
  • Most interesting find – Radiator Coolant (A plastic car engine part)

Day 3 0700 – 1500 – The big haul, Bonny Camp and Five Cowries Creek. This was called Reswaye day and so many women came out in force to help!

  • Recyclable Plastic – 388.9kg
  • Contaminated Plastic – 54.2kg
  • Total Amount of Plastic – 443.1kg
  • Marine Waste – 220.4kg
  • Total amount of volunteers – 28
  • Most interesting find – Human Feaces

Day 4 0700 – 1500 – Bonny Camp continued – as you can see from the photos, it was a big job! Day 4 also saw the support from Ocean in Florida, USA who assisted with gloves, caps and bags!

  • Recyclable Plastic – 247.1kg
  • Contaminated Plastic – 247.8kg
  • Total Amount of Plastic – 494.9kg
  • Marine Waste – 0kg
  • Total amount of volunteers – 37
Our wonderful leader, Doyinsola Ogunye
Bonny Camp. Would you have waded through this to help?

Day 5 0700 – 1500 – Five Cowries Creek – now this was supposed to be another day of Bonny Camp but the team hit a milestone and manage to completely clear it followed by the army beginning the sandfill!

  • Recyclable Plastic – 221.2kg
  • Contaminated Plastic – 100.5kg
  • Total Amount of Plastic – 321.7kg
  • Marine Waste – 0kg
  • Total amount of volunteers – 49

Day 6 0800 – 1400 – Badore Terminal alongside a clean up and hangout with the Reswaye Women. Today was not only our organiser’s birthday but also a real treat for the Reswaye women who were treated to a makeover!

  • Recyclable Plastic – 12.3kg
  • Post Consumer Plastic – 257 bottles/3.9kg
  • Total Amount of Plastic – 16.2kg
  • Marine Waste – 0kg
  • Total amount of volunteers – 36

Day 7 1000 – 1400 – Oniru Beach cleanup and closing ceremony This was a day for resting, after a little clean up of course!

  • Recyclable Plastic – 55.6kg
  • Contaminated Plastic – 0kg
  • Post Consumer Plastic – 465 bottles/7.2kg
  • Total Amount of Plastic – 68.8kg
  • Marine Waste – 0kg
  • Total amount of volunteers – 40

In total the Lagos Coastal Plastic Search removed 2158.3kgs from Lagos’s beaches and waterways!! A fantastic effort from all the team and volunteers but there is still so much that can be done. If you are interested in volunteering at future cleanups you can join the teams Whatsapp group using the following link:

And for those that cannot assist or that also want to donate, you can do so on the Justgiving link below:

Lucky for me, I met the organisers, Doyinsola Ogunye and Olalekan (Lekan) Bakare at a Climate Change Reception a few days before the clean up began.

Environmentalist, Lekan firmly stated, “We are all in this!” And I couldn’t agree more.


Going off the back of what Lekan stated above, we can all do our bit to reduce our plastic intake and along side that, make the effort to recycle. Back home in the UK we are all given recycle bins so that we can separate our glass, paper, plastic, aluminium and food waste etc… but here in Nigeria things are a little different. Recycling doesn’t really feel readily available.

Do not fear though as there is hope in sight! There are a few recycling companies here in Lagos that will accept your recyclable goods, offer collection and some even offer incentives. Below are just a couple of recycling companies made available to us.

Wecyclers have an app that you can use to organise collection, they also offer an incentive. The video below shares a brief insight to their mission.

So there we have it, hope in sight which really doesn’t give us much excuse not to recycle. Maybe you even have a company with the facility to offer a recycling point for your employees?


Here are but just a few suggestions on how you can reduce your plastic usage on a daily basis, especially single use plastics and really start to make a difference. Most of it will even save you money!

  • Take reusable shopping bags to the supermarket with you – who actually needs all those extra plastic bags clogging up your drawers anyway?? Not only can you take your own shopping bags with you, you can also take reusable bags to put your loose items such as fruit and veg in. I recently found a company selling these and I think it’s a great idea!
  • To add to this, you can buy reusable ziplock bags for sandwiches and fresh food items along with lids for a variety of bowls and dishes to stop you having to buy plastic containers. I have recently bought them myself and I can highly recommend them.

We all love a good takeaway and being a frugal Yorkshire lass, if I can’t eat all my food when I go out, I ask to take it home with me. Instead of getting yet another Styrofoam box which can’t be reused or yet another plastic container to add to your ever growing mountain, why not take your own with you? I felt a bit funny doing this at first but actually no one bats an eye lid and to be honest… so what if they do? Maybe even put some empty Chinese takeaway containers in the boot of your car just in case the opportunity presents itself. You can also keep a spare empty water bottle in your car for similar purposes.

To all those parents and parents to be out there, we are still living in the era when we were either in reusable nappies (diapers) or we used them on our own kids. Not only will using reusable nappies play it’s part in saving the environment but it will also save you a pretty penny.

  • Stop buying bottles of water, instead buy yourself a reusable bottle which in the long run will also save you money. The below example is actually made from recycled plastic that has been removed from the ocean.
  • Keeping on the plastic front – avoid buying plastic straws or using them in restaurants. You can buy reusable stainless steel, silicone and even bamboo straws and to be honest I think they look much nicer!
  • Especially since moving to Lagos, I’ve started buying shampoo and conditioners bars because I honestly can’t bear the thought of me being responsible for anymore plastic going into the Lagoon. I’ve actually come to prefer it. It’s really very good, long lasting and extremely useful for travelling! They also come in all sorts of scents and hair types, my particular favourite brand is Bath Bubble and Beyond which I can 100% recommend.
  • I also use the conditioner bar below, not only does it work amazingly but it’s lavender and lime scented which helps repel mosquitoes! Win win!!
  • In addition to the above, I also use the below toiletries, not only do they save me money, but these are also perfect for travelling with as well!
  • And one for the ladies out there – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Think of the money you’ll save!!

So there we have it folks, devastating facts, wonderful volunteers and what we can all do to help.

Obviously the above is not a full list of all the changes we can make. I’m sure you all have your own ideas on what we can do to assist, I know a few very handy upcyclers which is another option. If you have further suggestions please do add them into the comments at the bottom of the page!

But for now, keep fighting the good fight, recycle and spread the word!

Cat xx

#lagoscoastalplasticsearch #getonboard #legit

One thought on “Lagos Coastal Plastic Search”

  1. This is an excellent blog and a great reminder of the issue. TBH it has only been the last couple of years I really understood and took it seriously. This issues are of course complex. As you will know countries such as Kenya have taken plastic bags more seriously than many here in the UK and banned them. However I am then always reminded about how those plastic bags have proved vital in providing dry accomodation in the worse places for the poorest of the poor. It shows this is a global issue that we can only really tackle together and by seeing the consequences of our actions on the most vulnerable. Thank you for an important reminder.

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