Stand by studio – we're beach cleaning on live radio

Lizzie Prior By: Lizzie Prior
Date posted: 6 February 2018

I work mainly in the MCS head office supporting our volunteers around the UK on setting up their beach cleans and surveys. I get to hear a lot about local groups and the amazing work they do in their area to push for change, but I rarely get to meet them in person.

Many of our beach cleaners do so much more than just pick up litter - they take time out of their busy lives to go into schools and enthuse the children in the fight against litter, they speak to local businesses to encourage them told reduce their single-use plastic and they campaign on litter issues to their local MP.

They are the driving force for change on the ground and so I was thrilled to be able to head up and meet one group that does lots in their local area.

To make it ever more exciting – it was going to be on live national radio! At breakfast time!

I was asked by BBC Radio 5live if I could go to a beach clean at Cleveleys in Lancashire – between Blackpool and Fleetwood - to talk about beach litter and the issue of plastic on the station’s breakfast show.

The local Rossall Beach Buddies would also be there, and I knew them from taking part in our Great British Beach Cleans each year but now I was able to actually meet them in person doing something we all had in common.

Despite it being a slightly chilly Monday morning, I had a lovely warm welcome from Jane and David from the Beach Buddies when I arrived at 8am.

The story had already been flagged up on 5Live, with an interview with their guest reporter Matthew who is also a keen beach cleaner. Matthew had first got involved with beach cleans by taking part in our Great British Beach Clean a few years back and he said it was such an eye opener it made him want to do more to tackle the issue of litter.

By the time I got there, all the Beach Buddies litter picking equipment was ready to go and there were hot drinks, in good old crockery cups! No single-use coffee cups of course. You could tell these guys were real pros!

I met up with 5Live reporter Rowan and guest reporter Matthew.

Of course live radio is never without it’s dramas. We were ready to go ‘on the air’ when our signal failed and we lost our slot. New batteries were popped in the box, headphones were back and we were ready to go, but still no signal. So we raced to another part of the beach, via a car full of broadcasting equipment to try again. This time it worked with the help of the Beach Buddies diverting a tractor and a large truck so we could be heard!

After I’d been interviewed with presenter Rachel Burden, I got stuck in with the Rossall Beach Buddies beach clean. Around 40 people arrived all raring to go despite the cold and the early hour!

It was great to see a local group in action. Not only do they put on these cleans every month but they ensure they are always educating the public on the issues of litter.

Live beachclean - hanging objects

The Rossall Beach Buddies have a fantastic litter time line that they hang up when giving their briefings. It was made by children at a local school. It really drives home to anyone who sees it how long our negative habits can have an effect on our environment.

One plastic bottle, can take around 450 years to breakdown, seeing a simple message like this will hopefully make people think twice when they are next out and about.

So thankyou to Rossall Beach Buddies for being so welcoming and keep up the fantastic work, and thankyou BBC Radio 5Live for giving us the airtime.

If you are in the area, just north of Blackpool and want to get involved then check out the Beach Buddies facebook page.

If you want to take action in your local area, check out our beach clean events page here. Don’t worry if there aren’t any taking place, you can organise your own here.

MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.