Help wanted to clean up Scotland’s beautiful beaches

The Marine Conservation Society is urging volunteers to clean up the beaches in Scotland from 20 – 23 September.

The UK’s leading marine charity is bringing back the Great British Beach Clean for its 26th year running.

The Marine Conservation Society is a charity dedicated to protecting the seas, shores and wildlife. It campaigns for clean beaches and seas, sustainable fisheries, and protection of marine life. MCS strives to raise awareness of the threats facing our oceans through education, communication and collaboration. The charity also provides information on numerous aspects of marine conservation and publishes the Good Beach Guide and the Good Fish Guide annually.

In the 2018 Beach Clean 2,913 volunteers removed 75,807 pieces of litter across 135 beaches. The litter weighed a total of 2,503kg.

On average there were 559 items of rubbish per 100m of beach; a 14% increase to last year. This highlights the ever growing issue of pollution and the need to take action at such a crucial time in our planet’s life.

As well as cleaning the beaches, volunteers also record the litter they collect along the 100m stretches of sand. This is later addressed to find the extent of the damage.

The MCS Scotland Conservation Officer, Catherine Gemmell said: ‘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.’

Ever since the first 5p carrier bag charge came about in 2011, there has been a reduction of nearly 50% in plastic bags found on UK beaches. In addition to the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge, there have been a number of other schemes put in place as a result of the evidence found by volunteers at MCS beach cleans over the decades. These include a ban on microbeads in wash-off products, consultations on plastic tax, commitments to deposit return schemes, a ban on plastic stemmed cotton buds in Scotland and the banning of lantern and balloon releases.

This year’s Great British Beach Clean is being sponsored by the Ocado Foundation with £300,000 as part of the Environmental Pillar of its ‘Ocado Way – Corporate Responsibility Strategy’.

This Foundation was established in 2015 and is responsible for the online supermarket Ocado’s charitable and fundraising activity.

The Beach Clean event is also supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery which manages several society lotteries promoted by different causes. A minimum of 32% from each subscription goes directly to charities and good causes across the Britain and internationally. SO far players have raised £382 million.

MCS Beachwatch Officer, Lizzie Prior said: ‘Beach litter is a serious environmental problem. But the solution is in our hands. We want the 26th Great British 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 out oceans and now people want to make a difference. The more volunteers we have, the better it’ll be for our seas.’

MCS Beachwatch is MCS’s coastal environmental initiative that supports local individuals, groups and communities in looking after and protecting their local shoreline.

Each beach is appointed a beach coordinator who explains how to fill in the data form, and then it’s time to make a difference and start clearing the litter.

Head of Corporate Responsibility and Corporate Affairs, Suzanne Westlake 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.’

This event will encourage a huge turning point in our habits and treatment of the oceans and can help promote a cleaner and more sustainable environment both for us and for our marine life. It takes only a couple of hours to clean a section of the beach but can really make such a world of difference.