RAF Lossiemouth volunteers swapped fighter jets for bin bags this week to clear their local coastline ahead of the Great British Beach Clean (GBBC) this month.
Every year, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) invites people all across the country to head to their local shores and clear them of litter to help protect the environment.
Last year’s GBBC resulted in more than 151,000 items of litter being removed from the marine ecosystem by hard-working volunteers — more than three tonnes worth.
And for this year’s event, which will run from September 17 to 26, the MCS hopes even more people will take part to make a difference and provide the society with crucial data to help stop marine litter at the source.
This week, a group of volunteers from RAF Lossiemouth worked together with MCS staff to learn more about beach cleans ahead of the 2021 GBBC.
A comb, glowstick, and pants found in clean-up
Catherine Gemmell, conservation officer for the MCS, said: “It was fantastic to head to Lossie West Beach with 20 volunteers from RAF Lossiemouth to train them up in our beach-cleaning and litter-surveying project ahead of the GBBC, which starts on September 17.
“From what looked like a beach clean we still found more than 100 items of litter including a comb, glowstick, and a pair of pants.
“The RAF volunteers will be heading out again in a few weeks time to collect data as part of our GBBC.
“Anyone can take part, and we hope to see volunteers across Scotland heading to their local patch to give it a clean and help collect important litter data we use to stop litter turning up on the beach in the first place.”
And Elsie Rennie, Station Adjutant at RAF Lossiemouth said: “RAF Lossiemouth were delighted to join forces with the MCS as part of our annual ‘Where’s Your Head At’ challenge.
“It was great to learn a bit more about our surroundings and to have such a strong team of willing volunteers made for an incredibly rewarding experience.
“We look forward to working alongside the MCS in the near future.”
Collecting data as well as litter
The MCS has used data from previous GBBC events to help make societal changes, for example campaigning for carrier bag charges in shops.
Since the 5p plastic bag charge was introduced in Wales in 2011, and across the rest of the UK since, the MCS has recorded a 55% drop in single-use bags being found on beaches across the UK.
In the 2020 GBBC, 30% of beach cleans discovered face masks and PPE littering the UK’s coastline.
The MCS will host litter-picking events across the UK during this year’s GBBC, but if you can’t get to one, you can also organise your own.
To find out more, you can visit the MCS website.