2019 Great British Beach Clean

By | Category: Travel news

In about a fortnight’s time (20-23rd of September) it will that time of the year again when volunteers head to our beaches to help clean them up.

beach
A clean beach at Great Yarmouth. How clean is your nearest beach?

Organised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), they still require volunteers put in a few hours over that weekend. Last year,15,000 volunteers joined in and that was double the number in 2017.

They removed 8,550 kilos of litter from beaches around the UK which may sound a lot but how much could not be collected because of a volunteer shortage? Just 494 beaches around the UK coast were cleaned in 2018 (155 more than in 2017), making last year’s Great British Beach Clean the biggest MCS had ever organised. 

The Great British Beach Clean is not just a beach cleaning event. Volunteer cleaners become citizen scientists, as they also record the litter they find along a designated 100m stretch of every beach that’s cleaned, and it’s this aspect that has helped MCS change policy and behaviours over the last 25 years.  Last year, 600 items of litter were found on every 100 metres.  

The 5p carrier bag charge, a ban on microbeads in wash-off products, consultations on a plastic tax, commitments to deposit return schemes, reduction in the use of plastic straws and the banning of lantern and balloon releases – all have come about following compelling evidence gathered over decades by volunteers at MCS beach cleans.


Just 494 beaches around the UK coast were cleaned in 2018 (155 more than in 2017), making last year’s Great British Beach Clean the biggest MCS had ever organised. There seems to be no accurate count of beaches in the UK but there are at least three times the number that were cleaned in 2018.

And they vary in size from small covers to wide estuaries with sandy beaches measuring well over a couple of kilometres long and hundreds of metres wide. That requires a lot of volunteers.

Cleaning and surveying a beach only takes a couple of hours at most. Each beach has a coordinator, who explains how to fill in a simple data form, and then it’s just a case of grabbing a litter picker and a bin bag and filling it up with rubbish.


Sign up to a clean near you at: www.mcsuk.org/greatbritishbeachclean and if you can’t find an event on your preferred beach, call 01989 566017 and find out how you can organise your own. 

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