On the day


Event prep - check! Equipment packed - check! Now it's time to get on down to the beach!


It's really important to brief your volunteers before they get cleaning. They need to know what they're doing, why, and how - as well as all the risks and how to keep safe. Here are some of the key points you should cover:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Provide a bit of background of Beachwatch, the issue of marine litter and why recording the litter you find is so important. You can 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, including any risks particular to the beach (refer to your Risk Assessment)
  • Explain the survey form and methodology
  • Give them a time to meet back at the start point

If you want more detail on this, you can 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 in need. 
  • Take photos - especially of the litter on the beach and of people doing something about it. We find these really valuable so if you're happy for us to use them, email them to beachwatch@mcsuk.org with the name of the person to be credited.

After the clean

  • Weigh and count the bin bags, and count how many volunteers took part

It's also a good idea to 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 your fellow beach cleaners. Find out more and download lots of resources at www.mcsuk.org/plasticchallenge.
  • You could run a competition for the highest number of items recorded - note this is 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 the cleaners and fill in the front page of your survey summary form - number of bin bags, number of volunteers, weather conditions etc. 

Back at home

  • When you get back home, don't forget to collate all of the survey forms onto the summary form and come back here to upload it to our database!
  • Once you've added the data, you can download a summary of it 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. 
  • Have a cup of tea and a metaphorical pat on the back from us - you've done an important and great thing today, and we really appreciate it. 

Pretty soon, after a few events, you'll get some regulars coming along who know the drill and can even help new volunteers who join in. In time, some people might adopt their own beach to get cleaning. It's a ripple effect and you really can make a difference for your whole coastline.