Sign up to tackle beach litter in the biggest beach clean ever

Photo:  Malcolm McCurrach
Photo: Malcolm McCurrach

The UK’s leading marine charity, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), is looking for thousands of volunteers to clean up Scotland’s beaches during its 2019 Great British Beach Clean event (20 -23 September).

Last year, 2,913 volunteers took part, over 1,300 more than in 2017. They removed an incredible 75,807 individual items of litter, weighing 2,503kg, at 135 beach cleans along 15,680 metres of surveyed coastline.

At Ayr, 146 people helped clean up the beach.

The Great British Beach Clean is not just a beach cleaning event. Volunteer cleaners become citizen scientists, as they also record the litter they find along a designated 100m stretch of every beach that’s cleaned, and it’s this aspect that has helped MCS change policy and behaviours over the last 25 years.

Catherine Gemmell, MCS Scotland Conservation Officer, says taking part in the Great British Beach Clean really can make a difference: “Now more than ever is the time to turn awareness into action. Everybody is talking about marine litter - you see it on the TV, hear it on the radio and read it in the papers and across social media.

“We want people to take that awareness and turn it into action by taking part in the biggest beach litter survey and clean up in Scotland!

“Only by combining awareness with action and data can we make sure that industry and government put in place the urgent measures needed to stop this plastic tide for good.”

This year, for the first time, the Great British Beach Clean will be sponsored by the Ocado Foundation, the charitable arm of the online supermarket. The Foundation will be sponsoring the event to the tune of £300,000 as part of the Environmental Pillar of its ‘Ocado Way – Corporate Responsibility Strategy’.

Cleaning and surveying a beach only takes a couple of hours at most. Each beach has a coordinator, who explains how to fill in a simple data form, and then it’s just a case of grabbing a litter picker and a bin bag and filling it up with rubbish. And even if the beach looks clean at first glance, you can be sure it really isn’t!

“Beach litter is a serious environmental problem,” says Lizzie Prior, MCS Beachwatch Officer. “But the solution is in our hands. We want the 26th Great British Beach Clean weekend to be the biggest ever. The BBC’s Blue Planet II and subsequent programmes have given the UK public a real understanding of the pollution crisis facing our oceans and now people want to make a difference. The more volunteers we have, the better it’ll be for our seas.”

Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Corporate Affairs, said on behalf of the Ocado Foundation: “We’re delighted to be teaming up with the Marine Conservation Society on the GBBC. As a retailer we take our responsibilities with waste very seriously. We are very proud to be part of the event and the clean-up of Britain’s beaches it will achieve.”

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery also support the Marine Conservation Society beach litter programme.

Sign up to a clean near you at Great British Beach Clean and if you can’t find an event on your preferred beach, call 01989 566017 and find out how you can organise your own.