The Great British Beach Clean needs you now more than ever!

By Rachel Horne

We need your help!

By organising a small-scale Great British Beach Clean event between the 18th and 25th September, you will personally contribute to our vital research and directly protect the UK’s wildlife from pollution.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you organise a beach clean with your loved ones.

Norfolk beach huts

1. Register yourself online

Head to the Beachwatch site to register yourself online. Here you’ll find lots of helpful information about making your beach clean as safe and enjoyable as possible. If you already have a ‘volunteer’ account, you can easily switch to an ‘organiser’ account.

2. Adopt a 100-metre section of the beach

Once you’ve made your organiser account, you can adopt a 100-metre section of beach. This will be the area that your group cleans up. Perhaps you’ll choose the spot where your loved one proposed, or the stretch of beach that your parents took you to as a child? Whatever your reasons, you’ll have the freedom to protect a very special place in your heart. By removing the washed up litter and recording all your findings, you will be contributing to a cleaner ocean, and helping us with vital research about the litter on our beaches.

3. Select a date and time for your beach clean

After choosing the perfect place for your beach clean, you’ll have to think carefully about the date and time you choose to visit. Don’t forget to check the tides via visitmyharbour.com. Your beach clean should take place at low tide, when the litter has been deposited by the retreating waves. It’s a good idea to meet before low tide, and spend a good few hours collecting rubbish from the beach.

For your safety, be sure to research tidal activity before arriving at the beach. Make sure you bring plenty of drinks and snacks to keep morale high!

4. Upload your risk assessment

To keep everyone safe, it’s important to complete a brief risk assessment and upload it to your organiser account on the Beachwatch website. Don’t worry, it’s very simple! You can find a template and guidelines for carrying out your risk assessment here. When completing your risk assessment, please refer to our updated health and safety advice for COVID-19 context.

Once your risk assessment is complete, simply sign it and upload a copy to your Beachwatch account. You won’t be able to do this until you’ve selected the stretch of beach you’ll be cleaning.

Dornoch beach

5. Let the landowner know what’s going on

In most cases, the landowner will be the council. By alerting them about your beach clean plans, you can make sure that the litter you collect will be collected and disposed of. Make sure you leave the rubbish collected at the agreed drop off point, in bin bags which have been tied properly shut. It’s also worth considering if some of the collected litter could be recycled. If so, make sure the recyclable litter is separated from the bags which have to go to landfill.

6. Register your event via the Beachwatch website

Normally, we operate a ‘more the merrier’ policy when it comes to beach cleaning. Due to Coronavirus health and safety guidelines, things will be done a bit differently this year! In order to follow government guidelines and keep each other safe, we would like organisers to focus on smaller beach cleans with groups of family and friends. After being unable to see our loved ones for some time, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet up with a small group of people that matter the most. Don’t forget to maintain social distances of 2 metres with those outside your family bubble.

7. Print off survey forms

Collecting data about your beach clean is just as important as the litter you pick up. Volunteers will record the litter that they find on the volunteer survey form. Each volunteer should be given a form, and they should record the litter that they have picked up before placing it inside their bin bag. Sometimes it won’t be possible to bring all the litter home. For example, an enormous electrical appliance simply will not fit in your bag! Even if you are unable to remove a piece of litter from the beach, it should still be recorded on the survey form.

You can find some more pointers about completing the survey here.

As the organiser, you will collect all the survey forms together and summarize them on a summary survey sheet. This is a vital piece of research that we’ll use to help hold governments and corporations accountable for their actions.

8. Head to the beach!

Here’s a checklist of things to remember:

Optional extras:

On arrival at the beach, it’s time to give a quick briefing. This year, the participants are likely to be your friends and family, so the briefing doesn’t need to be too formal. It’s a good idea to refer to our briefing guide anyway, because it will tell you everything that your volunteers need to know. Make sure you take the time to explain the survey forms to everyone, and to answer any questions that the participants might have.

Croyde beachclean volunteers

9. Submit your beach litter results via your beach page

If you have weighing scales, don’t forget to weigh the collected bin bags and take a note of how many there are before you dispose of them! After you’ve finished your beach clean and left rubbish at the agreed disposal point, it’s time to head home for a well-deserved cup of tea. You can now upload your beach litter results via your Beachwatch account.

10. Share your beach clean experience

By sharing your beach clean experience on social media, you can help inspire others to do their bit for our beaches and ocean. Take lots of pictures, particularly of any weird and wonderful beach clean finds. We’d really appreciate you sharing these images on social media! You can tag us to help spread the message further.

Twitter: @mcsuk Facebook: @mcsuk Instagram: @mcs_uk

Images can also be emailed to our team at beachwatch@mcsuk.org, please include the name of the person to credit.

Thank you for participating in the Great British Beach Clean! We appreciate all the time and effort that our volunteers have invested in protecting our beaches. For more information, you can refer to our detailed Organiser Guide. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any extra help.

Email contact: beachwatch@mcsuk.org Telephone contact: 01989 567807