Join the Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean 2021

The Great British Beach Clean

2 September 2021

The world is more aware of plastic waste than ever before and that means there's greater awareness on the state of beaches across the UK. For nearly thirty years, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Great British Beach Clean have invited thousands of people to take part in one of the largest citizen science activities on the British coast.

What is the Great British Beach Clean?

The Great British Beach Clean is a week-long citizen science event taking place between 17 and 23 September 2021. Hundreds of beach cleans take place up and down the UK, and in doing so means that thousands of people survey and create data on the waste that washes up on UK beaches. In 2020, 30% of beach cleans found face masks and PPE – part of an average of 425 items of litter found in every 100m of British beach.

The data is used to influence government policy, and has been instrumental in developing government policy - including the introduction of the plastic bag charge, banning microplastics in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and supporting a tax on single-use plastic items.

Cleaning our beaches has never been more important, and in particular removing harmful plastic that lasts for hundreds of years, potentially harming generation after generation of marine life. With everything from American sonar equipment to Russian bug sprays and picnics from the 1980s appearing as part of rubbish on beaches, the impact of waste plastics can't be overestimated.

How can you help?

The easiest way to take part is to join in one of your local events. Alternatively you can organise your own – the MSC offer step-by-step guides to a successful beach clean event. Can't make it to an event? Undertake a mini beach clean when you next head to the coast - every item of litter removed makes our beaches cleaner and more pleasant for everyone.

If you can’t make it to the coast, there’s always the Source to Sea Litter Quest. Much of the litter in parks and on streets ends up in the ocean, and taking part in a clean in your local park can help keep our beaches clean for everyone – including the next time you visit!

Two volunteers during the Great British Beach Clean

What you'll need

You'll be spending a while outside, so stout shoes and comfortable clothes are a must. Many events will provide tools and gloves, but it always helps to provide your own if you can! Gardening gloves are a staple, and a litter-picker saves you bending down regularly. Finally, a bucket is very useful for holding litter until you get to a bag - and saves on single-use plastics too.

Getting to your local GBBC Event

Many of the GBBC events are easy to get to on public transport, making the whole day a sustainable one. With our trains serving most of the south coast between Portsmouth and Exeter, it's easy to find one close to you thanks to the MSC's handy list.

Location When Where Nearest station Getting there
Chesil Beach 17 September
12:00 to 13:00
Below the Cove House Inn Weymouth
Take the route 1 or 501 bus - it's about 40 minutes.
Southsea Beach 18 September
10:00 to 12:00
In front of the rock gardens Portsmouth & Southsea
Take the route 1, 2 or 3 bus to Clarendon Road. It takes around 25 minutes.
St Helen's Beach 18 September
11:00 to 15:00
Nodes Point Holiday Park entrance to St Helen's beach Ryde Esplanade
Take the Island Coaster from Ryde Esplanade – as well as being a pleasant trip along the coast of the Isle of Wight, it takes just 20 minutes to get to Nodes Point.
Seaton Beach 19 September
10:00 to 12:00
Fisherman's Gap - opposite the roundabout on the Esplanade Axminster
Seaton is a short taxi ride from Axminster station.
Shanklin Beach 22 September
11:00 to 13:00
At the car park at the beginning of the Esplanade Shanklin
It’s a 15-minute walk from Shanklin station to the Esplanade, or you can take the Shanklin Shuttle to the Palestine Slipway in just 10 minutes.
Thorness Bay 22 September
13:30 to 15:30
The gated entrance Southampton Central
From Southampton Central, you can take the bus to the Town Quay. Use the RedJet service to East Cowes, then it’s a 35-minute trip on the number 32 bus.
Charmouth Beach 25 September
12:00 to 14:00
Sea front car park Axminster
Buy a combined train and bus ticket to Bridport to include travel on the X51 Jurassic Coaster, taking less than 50 minutes to reach Charmouth.
Bowleaze Cove 26 September
10:00 to 12:00
The Jetty at the entrance to the cove Weymouth
Bus route 503 takes just 15 minutes to get you to Bowleaze Cove – or if the weather’s nice, it’s a 45-minute walk along the seafront.
Solent Beach 26 September
10:30 to 12:30
The Hiker Cafe, Hengistbury Head Christchurch
The number 11 bus takes you to the visitor centre at Hengistbury Head in just 20 minutes – or it’s a 43 minute walk through the picturesque town itself.