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Sunday morning on the 12th June, I was woken by the sound of heavy rain. Not the best start to the day when you know you’re leading a beach clean but we do live in the UK. so I had my waterproof trousers and rain coat at the ready, as there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!

Arriving at Sand Bay, Weston-Super-Mare the rain was still coming down and I began to worry whether people would turn up to volunteer their time on a windy, rainy beach. I needn’t worry though, as sure enough the car park starting filling up and people were walking over to our gazebo saying “we’re here for the beach clean!” It was fantastic to see almost 30 M&S, staff and customers taking time out of their weekend to help do some good and luckily for us the rain then stopped and we had lovely sunshine for the entire clean!

M&S staff and customers have always got stuck in regardless of the weather; MCS has had a partnership with M&S since 2012, with beach cleans taking place every year across the UK.  Since it began hundreds of beaches have been cleaned by tens of thousands of M&S staff and volunteers. There is still more work to be done, which is why it has been great to be a part of Spark Something Good.

Heading on down to Sand Bay, initially you would think it was pristine and free of any litter, but taking a closer look you begin to see the footprints of humans. Small pieces of plastic, sweet wrappers, metal drink cans, dog poo bags, balloons and hundreds of cotton bud sticks, all wrapped up in the seaweed strandline. In just over an hour 1241 litter items had been picked up.

There are several sources of this litter, shipping, fishing, sewage related debris or being directly dropped on the beach or inland, where it gets washed down rivers and streams, and into our seas. Almost 50% of litter found on beaches comes from the general public. This might be a shocking statistic, but what it means is that we have the power to stop almost half the litter entering our environment just by taking care of what we do on the beach, and at home.

The hundreds of cotton bud sticks that we found come from people putting them down their loo at home instead of in the bin. Our sewage system isn’t designed to deal with items like this, this goes for all wet wipes and basically anything that isn’t Pee, Poo or Paper, so if you just remember these 3 P’s, you can ensure nothing you put down the loo will be ending up on our beaches!

A beach clean is a fantastic way to make a real positive difference to the marine environment. By removing this litter you are ensuring those items don’t cause harm by entanglement, or being eaten but also then recording what you find and sending it back to us at MCS you are contributing to a national database where that information is fed back to our Government, manufacturers, retailers and also back to the public in public awareness campaigns. All this will help stop litter from reaching our beaches in the first place.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the Neighbourly page, to see when the next Spark Something Good beach clean will be taking place https://www.neighbourly.com/ . If there isn’t one in your area have a look at our Beachwatch event page, at http://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/events . We are holding a nationwide event on the 3rd weekend of September called the Great British Beach Clean where hundreds of beach cleans are taking place across the UK. Go get stuck in and have a look at what events are being put on in your area, or organise your own and get your friends and family down to the beach, whatever the weather!