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The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is appealing for people to become part of the solution to the litter problem engulfing UK beaches by adopting a beach and leading a clean-up and survey during this year’s Great British Beach Clean (September 20-23).
During last year’s event, volunteer cleaners picked up more than 600 items of litter for every 100m of UK coastline surveyed. Just short of 15,000 volunteers took part – double the number in 2017.
MCS says it hopes the 26th Great British Beach Clean will continue to smash records when it comes to volunteer numbers – but not litter amounts. The charity is appealing for more organisers to lead more beach cleans around the UK coastline – 494 were cleaned in 2018, an increase of 155 on the previous year.
‘Cleaning so many individual beaches last year was a fabulous achievement by our volunteer cleaners and organisers,’ said Lizzie Prior, MCS Beachwatch officer.
‘But we know that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds and hundreds of beaches around our coasts that have never been cleaned and surveyed – and it’s the collection of this data that is so important to getting even more positive actions implemented than have already been achieved in the last year or so.’
Data collected by volunteers from the 25 years of MCS-led Great British Beach Cleans has been instrumental in the introduction of the 5p single-use carrier bag charge, the ban on microbeads in personal cleaning products like shower gels and toothpastes, the commitment to a deposit return scheme in Scotland (and the consultation on one in England and Wales), and a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England from next year.
‘This year we’re appealing for more people to adopt a beach and become one of our army of organisers,’ said Lizzie. ‘It’s an absolutely vital role because the more beaches we have litter data for, the clearer the picture we will have of where it all comes from and what needs to be targeted next.’
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.
Becoming a Great British Beach Clean organiser is simple. Find a beach you want to clean, sign up and register it on the MCS online system and MCS will provide you with all the help you need to get going. www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch