The Marine Conservation Society has been running the four-day beach cleaning extravaganza for the last 24 years and expects the 2018 event to beat all previous records.
In 2017, 6,944 volunteers attended beach cleans at 339 locations all over the UK from the north of Scotland to Cornwall, Northern Ireland to the Channel Islands. But already, before any litter has been picked, 7,391 volunteers have pre-registered at 432 cleans.
Lizzie Prior, MCS Beach and River Clean-up Project Officer, says previous years’ experience shows that numbers registered pre-event can often triple over the weekend itself: “Last year, by this time, a couple of thousand volunteers had registered, but our final figures were just short of 7,000. Since then, we’ve seen the BBC’s Blue Planet II effect, so that more and more people have been keen to clean beaches at our many events throughout the year. We hope it’ll make this year’s Great British Beach Clean the biggest, by volunteer number, ever!”
And it’s not just the public that are keen to grab a litter picker and help stop the tide of rubbish that is engulfing our beaches. This year the charity says more MPs, Welsh Assembly Members and Members of the Scottish Parliament than ever before are getting involved.
In Scotland, two Scottish Government Ministers and four Members of the Scottish Parliament will be out beach cleaning, whilst Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur, put down a motion in the Scottish Parliament wishing Great British Beach Clean volunteers good luck. Four Assembly Members will attend events around Wales, where our cleans form part of the national “All Wales Beach Clean”. At least eight MPs, including two Government ministers – George Eustice and Caroline Dinenage – will also be joining volunteers on beaches around English coasts.
Elsewhere, swapping guitars for gloves will be country pop chart toppers, Ward Thomas, who are attending two cleans in Sussex; Wales’ naturalist and regular Spring and Autumn Watch presenter, Iolo Williams, will be at Llandudno; Olympic swimmer turned commentator, Sharron Davies, will be picking up litter at Sand Bay in Somerset; and wildlife and underwater cameraman, Doug Allan, will be at Newquay with ‘heavy metal’ marine biologist, broadcaster and Channel 4’s ‘Sunday Brunch’ resident wildlife expert, Tom ‘The Blowfish’ Hird.
The Great British Beach Clean is being sponsored by Waitrose for the second year in a row – cash from their carrier bag sales in England goes towards supporting MCS’ year round beach clean programme. Tor Harris, Head of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability at Waitrose, said: “Our coast is important to all of us so the Great British Beach Clean is a key opportunity to reduce pollution, especially from plastics. We’re really happy to support such a fantastic event and this builds on our environmental commitment to ensure that all our packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025″.
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery also support the MCS beach litter programme.
It’s not too late to register as a volunteer online at: www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/greatbritishbeachclean or just turn up on the day to one of the hundreds of events listed.