Marine Conservation Society Calling on Volunteers to get Beach Clean Ready this September

mcs gbbc 2021 title

(Photo: Catherine Gemmel/MCSUK)

The Marine Conservation Society is holding its annual Great British Beach Clean from Friday 17 to Sunday 26 September 2021 and is calling for volunteers from across the UK to join in and help.

The UK’s beaches and seas are a haven for an incredible variety of wildlife, all of which are put at risk by pollution. Both land-based and marine animals can become entangled in plastic wrapping, become distressed, or mistake pollution such as plastic bags for food, all of which can prove fatal.

An estimated 11 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year, so every item prevented from entering the water system helps. Over the last two years during the pandemic, discarded personal protection equipment (PPE) such as masks and plastic gloves have become a particular concern. Discarded PPE was found on 30 per cent of all beaches cleaned during the 2020 Beach Clean, and MCS will once again ask volunteers to note how much PPE they find during the 2021 event.

The Marine Conservation Society’s newest Ocean Ambassador, comedian Zoe Lyons, is supporting the charity’s call to arms for volunteers. 'What does it mean to be beach clean ready,' she said? '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.

mcs gbbc 2021 zoe lyons

Comedian and Marine Conservation Society Ocean Ambassador Zoe Lyons pictured at Brighton Beach (Photo: Maco Bette/MCSUK)

'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 through funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, is more than just a cleanup. Every year volunteers make note of the litter they collect, sharing the data with the Marine Conservation Society’s experts. The charity uses the data collected to campaign for legislation to limit beach and ocean pollution, including the planned Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers across the UK, which Scotland is due to implement in July 2022.

Since the introduction of a 5p carrier bag charge in Wales in 2011, followed by the rest of the UK in 2015, the Marine Conservation Society has reported a 55 per cent drop in single-use bags found on beaches across the UK, but pollution around the coast still remains a serious problem, with an average of 425 items of litter collected for every 100 metres of beach during the 2020 clean-up.

mcs gbbc 2020 ppe stats

PPE has become a serious pollution problem during the pandemic (Image: MCSUK)

Lizzie Prior, Beachwatch Officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said: '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 towns and cities that are miles from the coast. For those who do not live near the coast or who are unable to attend a beach clean event, MCS also organises a 'Source to Sea Litter Quest', when volunteers can help to keep the UK’s seas and beaches and seas clean, no matter how far away from the shore they might be.

Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for a beach clean from 17th - 26th September this year via the Marine Conservation Society’s website. More information on the Source to Sea Litter Quest can be found here.

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 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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