On the day

Information regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Small, local, private, social distancing beach cleans

Now that rules across the UK allow for more time to be spent outside, we are happy for volunteers to run beach cleans and litter surveys again – but only as small, local and private events, following the simple rules below:

  1. Always follow the government, and local council rules, where you are
  2. A private event with group numbers that follow your government advice, with social distancing measures in place
  3. Only clean a beach that is local to you (within 5 miles) – we don’t want to encourage anyone to travel
  4. Book these as private, closed events to avoid clashes with other beach cleans
  5. Update your risk assessment in accordance to our new safety guidelines
  6. Stay 2m apart from people other than your household
  7. Use gloves, litter pickers (if you have them) and wash your hands

To help we have updated all our resources including the health and safety guidelines and Q&A. Please do have a look at these and review the government advice before you start.

If you’ve never run a beach clean or litter survey before we’re happy to help you get started. Please give our team a call on 01989 567807 or email us at Beachwatch@mcsuk.org


Briefing the volunteers

Volunteers need to know what they're doing, why, and how - as well as all the risks and how to keep safe. Key points to cover:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Provide a bit of background of Beachwatch, the issue of marine litter and why recording it is so important. Mention anything you know about your local area too - what you've found on your beach in the past, any local issues or stats, whether there are any litter campaigns in your area.
  • Go over the key health and safety issues, (refer to your Risk Assessment)
  • Explain the survey form and methodology
  • Give them a time to meet back at the start point

download a suggested briefing.

During the clean

  • Be available to help people identify the litter they find and locate it on the survey form.
  • Make sure everyone is following the right process - picking up everything they find over the 100m and recording it all.
  • If you've got sharps boxes, buckets for glass etc or a first aid kit, keep these with you and look out for anyone who needs them. 
  • Take photos - especially of the litter on the beach - especially if it's a weird find. Email photos to beachwatch@mcsuk.org with the name of the person to be credited.

After the clean

  • Weigh and count the bin bags. How many volunteers took part?

Provide a closing talk:

  • Ask if anyone found anything unusual
  • Find out what the majority of items were made of (likely to be plastic). If you find lots of plastic on your beach clean, you may like to promote the Plastic Challenge to beach cleaners. Find out more here www.mcsuk.org/plasticchallenge.
  • Run a competition for the highest number of items recorded - number of items not weight. This encourages people to follow the correct methodology by picking up as much as they can find, and also tally up their survey forms - saving you some time at the end!
  • Thank them for their help - MCS couldn't run Beachwatch without our volunteers and we appreciate all of their time (including yours)

Before you leave the beach, make sure the litter is left in the place you agreed with whoever is going to collect it and fill in the front page of your survey summary form - number of bin bags, number of volunteers, weather conditions etc. 

Back at home

  • Collate all of the survey forms onto the summary form and upload it to the website.
  • Download your summary as a PDF. You can send this round to your volunteers to let them know what they've achieved - and while you're at it, you could let them know when your next event is! 

After a few events, you'll get some regulars coming along who know the drill and can even help when new volunteers arrive. Some volunteers might adopt their own beach to clean. A ripple effect, started by you, can make a difference to your whole coastline.