Conservationists are urging the public to take part in a UK-wide annual beach-clean – although this year’s event is a little different due to Covid-19.
The Marine Conservation Society usually encourages people to find an event to join near them for its annual Great British beach-clean over a weekend in September, to pick up litter and record the debris around the UK’s coasts.
But this year volunteers are being asked to adopt a 100-metre stretch of beach themselves, and organise their own, smaller beach-cleans with family friends and “bubbles”, in line with Government guidance, as part of the event.
The scheme, supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery, will be running for a full week from September 18-25, to give more people the chance to take part, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said.
Volunteers are also being asked to record how much personal protective equipment they find, including gloves and masks, after anecdotal reports of a sharp increase in discarded items of PPE on beaches.
The charity hopes more organisers than ever before will take ownership of their local beaches, to support the project and collect data on the most common forms of rubbish they find on the coast.
The information is used by MCS to campaign for policy changes to tackle ocean pollution before it gets into the seas, such as the 5p plastic bag levy, and the ban on plastic coffee stirrers and straws, which is set to be introduced in October.
Last year, almost 10,000 volunteers took part, collecting an average of more than 500 items of rubbish per 100 metres of beach.
Lizzie Prior, beachwatch officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “As more of us are looking to stay local this summer and head to the UK’s beaches, it’s even more important that we all take ownership of keeping them beautiful for everyone.
“We’d love to see more people than ever before signing up to organise their own beach-clean.
“The more organisers we have, the more beach-cleans we can run throughout the week and the more data we’ll have to push for policy which will reduce ocean pollution in the future.”
Dr Laura Foster, head of clean seas at the Marine Conservation Society, added: “Single-use plastic has been used increasingly during the pandemic, but we need to ensure this is not a permanent backwards step.
“At the same time, we’ve seen people spending more time outdoors and enjoying our beaches.”
She called for a “truly green recovery”, and urged the Government to bring in systematic changes and ambitious policy to curb litter polluting the oceans and environment.
To find out how to run a beach-clean event, people can visit https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/organisers