The final straw: Great British beach clean

The Great British Beach Clean is a time when we can all come together in the UK to make a difference and protect our marine life, by preventing plastic and hazardous items entering our oceans. The national beach clean took place this year between the 14th-17th September 2018 and the great thing about it? We can all get involved.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) are in their 25th year of ‘The GBBC’ – the charity brings people together to make a difference. Through their website they offer the option to volunteer or organise your own beach clean event. You can search local beaches or a beach you’d like to visit and see if there are any organised beach cleans for you to join – alternatively you can take action and arrange one at your chosen location.

To date the MCS beach cleans have removed a staggering 6 million pieces of litter – amazing! With 7,000 people taking part in the 2017 beach clean across more than 339 beaches within the UK, the official collected statistic of litter reached a staggering 255,209 pieces. The number of volunteers doubled with 15,000 people taking action this year. Nearly 500 beaches were cleaned and almost 9000 kilograms of litter was collected, meaning that for every 100 metres an incredible 600 items of litter was collected over the September weekend.


Figure 1: WIRSOL staff member participating in the GBBC

Why is beach cleaning important?

Collectively we need to start taking serious action to protect our oceans and coastlines. Litter and plastic pollution is impacting our marine and bird life. Fish are mistaking small plastic items such as bottle caps as food, whilst turtles are mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish, causing dangerous blockages inside their bodies slowly stopping the animals from being able to eat. This even effects birds, which can become entangled. Consequently, tourism and fishing industries are under strain.

Beach cleans are so important – if we do not take action, the devastating effects we are seeing will only worsen.


If this isn’t enough, this also has a harrowing effect on us – we are consuming the fish that have been exposed to the tainted waters and more often than not, have consumed plastic. The problem then reverts back to us as humans, at the top of the food chain.

Awesome job to all those who took part in the beach clean on the September weekend, what a huge success it was. If you missed this, you can arrange your own or simply head to the beach with a bag (for life) – every little helps.

GBBC weekend is certainly great for highlighting the issue of pollution and litter on our beaches yet, looking after our coastline should be continual throughout the year. We should pride ourselves on the environment that we are surrounded by and the beauty within it, continuously working towards a cleaner environment not only for the animals and marine life but for us as a society.

We would love to hear your stories on this topic, what have you found on your local beach? Any great local regular beach clean initiatives that people can join? Get in touch with us on our social channels and let’s make a difference, together.


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