Can you help create the UK’s biggest beach cleaning event?

The UK’s leading marine charity is urging people who love the coast to organise a beach clean and survey and do their bit in the worldwide fight against marine litter.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) will be running its 24th annual Great British Beach Clean-up event between the 15th and 18th September. The charity hopes this year’s clean-up will put the UK in the top ten of the 100 or so participating countries and regions which take part in the International Coastal Clean-up during the same weekend every year.

This year, the Great British Beach Clean is being sponsored by Waitrose who are donating £500,000 to MCS from their carrier bag fund to help make the 2017 Great British Beach Clean-up the biggest in the event’s history. Waitrose are also supporting MCS’ year round marine litter survey work and over the next year the charity aims to organise 1,000 beach and river clean ups across England alone for people to participate in.

“Throughout the UK, where many communities rely on the cleanliness of beaches for their coastal economy, beach litter and the problems it causes to both humans and wildlife is often largely ignored by the public and local and national authorities,” says MCS Beach and River Clean Project Officer, Lizzie Prior. “Over the last two decades beach litter has steadily risen. Our volunteers clean and survey the litter on hundreds of beaches every September, making this survey the most respected and long standing in the UK, but we need more people to host cleans at new beaches as well as at existing beaches on our database. The more beaches we have litter data for, the clearer the picture we will have of where it all comes from and what we can do about it.”

Although the Great British Beach Clean doesn’t take place until September, MCS says it is vital that new organisers get involved now so volunteers have enough time to sign up to the new clean-ups.  

The MCS Great British Beach Clean is part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Clean-up. Last year volunteers, at beaches all over the world, covered a distance of 14,990 miles and collected weird finds ranging from a piano to drones, selfie sticks to typewriters. In the UK 364 beaches were cleaned.

Running a beach clean has never been simpler with the introduction of a fantastic interactive website with lots of downloadable resources to help people promote their clean-ups as well as support from the Beachwatch team at MCS headquarters both online and on the phone.

“We would love to see nearer 500 beaches cleaned this year ” says Lizzie Prior. “Anyone wishing to run a beach clean will get lots of help from MCS. The coast isn’t just for a week’s holiday…it’s for all year round. Our volunteer numbers put us 17th out of 112 countries in 2016. It would be great to break into the top ten this year!”

Tor Harris, Head of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability at Waitrose, said:] “Our coast is important to all of us so the Great British Beach Clean is a key opportunity to reduce pollution, especially from plastics. It's our first step in donating £1 million to projects to tackle plastic pollution. This builds on our plastics environmental commitments to only sell paper stem cotton buds, nothing containing microbeads and to ensure that all our packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025. We’d love for our customers and Partners (employees) to sign up and organise local beach cleans to improve them for wildlife and all of us.”

If you would like to organise a beach clean event that will benefit your favourite or nearest beach and help tackle beach litter globally, visit www.mcsuk.org/greatbritishbeachclean or telephone 01989 566017.