Can you help create Scotland's biggest beach cleaning event?

Marine Conservation Society bidding to clean up 150 beaches across the country in just four days.

Scotland’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 in Scotland between the 15th and 18th September and the charity hopes this year’s clean- up in the country will help 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.

“Scotland has more of the UK’s coastline than anywhere else,” says Catherine Gemmell, MCS Scotland Conservation Officer. “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 a huge issue that we need everyone’s help with; from schools and communities to councillors and MSPs we hope to see everyone helping look after their beach this September.”

During the 2016 Great British Beach Clean event in Scotland, 1,744 volunteers cleaned 121 beaches, picking up, on average, 459 items of litter per 100km they cleaned. Plastic bottles on Scottish beaches rose by 21.3% compared to 2015 In Scotland, MCS is a founding partner of the ‘Have you got the bottle’ campaign led by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS).

“We’re confident that evidence from other countries and a successful trial at Heriot-Watt University shows that a Scotland-wide roll-out of a DRS would lead to reduction in the number of drinks containers that blight our beaches,” says Calum Duncan, MCS Head of Conservation in Scotland. “We were delighted to hear that the Scottish Government has asked Zero Waste Scotland to explore possible designs for a DRS system. That’s why it’s so important that this year we try and clean more beaches to help show everybody throughout Scotland what a huge problem litter, and especially plastic bottle litter, is on Scottish beaches.”

Although the Great British Beach Clean doesn’t take place until September, MCS says it’s 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 150 beaches cleaned in Scotland this year,” says Catherine Gemmell “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.”

The Great British Beach Clean is part of the year-long Waitrose Beach and River Clean-up and is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Head of Charities for People’s Postcode Lottery, Clara Govier, said: “I’m delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting this project. It’s such an important initiative, and the more beach cleans that are run around the country the better. Having been on clean-ups with MCS, I found them really fulfilling and great fun.” If you would like to organise a beach clean event in Scotland that will benefit your favourite or nearest beach and help tackle beach litter globally, visit www.mcsuk.org/greatbritishbeachclean or telephone 01989 566017.

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