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Sunday, 16 January 2022

Volunteers needed for Marine Conservation Society’s annual Great British Beach Clean

Are you beach clean ready? The Marine Conservation Society is holding its annual Great British Beach Clean from Friday 17th – Sunday 26th September 2021 and is calling for volunteers from across the country to join in and help.

The UK’s beaches and seas are a haven for an incredible variety of wildlife, put at risk by pollution. Animals can get tangled in plastic wrapping, become distressed, or mistake pollution such as plastic bags for food. This often proves fatal to them. With 11 million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year, everyone can help…no matter where they are.

The Marine Conservation Society’s newest Ocean Ambassador, comedian Zoe Lyons, is supporting the charity’s call to arms for volunteers, she said:

“What does it mean to be beach clean ready? When it comes to the UK, it means being prepared for anything! Come rain, shine or gale-force winds, we’ll be there with a litter picker in hand with a smile on our faces.

“The Great British Beach Clean is a fantastic way to dip a toe into the world of beach cleaning. Getting involved means you’ll be part of a global project which not only clears litter but gathers important data which helps to clear the ocean from pollution.

“As the world starts to open up again, the Great British Beach Clean is a fantastic opportunity to get out and do something good for the environment.”

The Great British Beach Clean, supported thanks to funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, is more than just a clean up. Every year volunteers make a note of the litter they collect, sharing the data with the Marine Conservation Society’s experts. The charity has used data collected to campaign for legislation to limit beach and ocean pollution, including for Deposit Return Schemes for all types of drinks containers across the UK. Scotland is due to implement a Deposit Return Scheme in July 2022.

Since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge in Wales in 2011 and across the rest of the UK, the Marine Conservation Society reports a 55% drop in single-use bags found on beaches across the UK. But, the UK’s beaches remain polluted. At last year’s Great British Beach Clean, volunteers found an average of 425 items of litter for every 100 metres of UK beach cleaned.

Logging the impacts on the environment of the pandemic, the charity asked volunteers to note how much PPE equipment, like face masks and gloves, they came across on the coast. Last year, face masks and gloves were found on almost 30% of beaches cleaned by volunteers.

Lizzie Prior, Beachwatch Officer at the Marine Conservation Society:

“We’re hoping that more volunteers than ever before are beach clean ready this year. After having to downsize during lockdown last year, we want to gather as much data as we can to understand the state of pollution on the UK’s shores.”

Most litter that ends up on the beach and in the sea starts its journey in villages, towns and cities miles from the coast. For those not based by the sea, the charity’s Source to Sea Litter Quest is a fantastic way to get involved and stop pollution before it makes its way to the sea. Volunteers taking part in a Litter Quest can keep the UK’s beaches and seas clean from miles away.

Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for a beach clean from 17th – 26th September this year via the Marine Conservation Society’s website.

For those wanting to play their part ahead of September’s Great British Beach Clean, the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge is running throughout July and offers tips and tricks to reduce everyday single-use plastics, stopping pollution at the source. The charity’s Plastic Free Seas appeal is raising money to help support beach cleaners doing what they do best, providing equipment to make beach cleaning easier, and training up new volunteers.

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