Marine Conservation Society launches colourful cartoons to highlight coastal poo-llution issues

Date posted: 2 November 2017

The UK’s leading marine conservation charity has launched a campaign to highlight how little things we do in our daily lives – often miles away from the coast – can have a massive effect on the quality of our coastal waters.


Dog poo is a source of high levels of bacteria and can lead to reduced water quality, and poses a human health risk

Emma Cunningham,
Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer

The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) ‘Poos and Don’ts’ campaign aims to drive home simple pollution messages based around a central theme - wherever you are, your actions have an impact on our rivers, beaches and the sea.

Walking your dog in the countryside or near the coast with a pocketful of plastic dog poo bags sounds very responsible – but it’s not if you can’t be bothered to take the full bags home and end up hanging them on a tree, slinging them into a verge or leaving them behind a rock.

Animal waste is one of the many seemingly small sources of pollution that can add up to big problems for our oceans and even for our own health.

“Our creative campaign ‘Know your Poos and Don’ts’ goes a step further than a basic pollution message,” says Emma Cunningham, MCS Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer. “The downloadable fun graphics are highly sharable and are all relevant to different areas of life like walking the dog, going to the bathroom, or being in the kitchen. The series of five images show how your actions can really affect our beaches and seas.”

MCS has launched the first graphic today - C’mon, confess! Who hangs dog mess? - asking people to not leave their full poo bags behind but to take them home and dispose of them responsibly.

Huge amounts of dog poo, shrink-wrapped in plastic bags, was found on the UK’s beaches during the MCS Great British Beach Clean in 2016. 792 bags were recorded at 364 beaches by volunteers during just one weekend in September last year. The charity says these numbers don’t show the full scale of the problem; beach clean volunteers don’t record unbagged waste and therefore the total amount of dog poo left by pet owners on our beaches remains unknown.

The charity hopes local authorities, businesses, other charities and individuals will download and display the message or share on their social media feeds and shame the ‘hangers’ into being more responsible.

“We’re delighted that pet owners can enjoy dog friendly beaches and clearly think ahead by carrying poop scoop bags. But please take the bag off the beach and bin it. Leaving a bag full of poo on the beach will result in preserved excrement, protected from the elements for years by a bag which could take a very long time to break down. Dog poo is a source of high levels of bacteria and can lead to reduced water quality, and poses a human health risk,” says Emma Cunningham.

Anyone can download the first image from the ‘Poos and Don’ts’ campaign here.

MCS will be releasing further graphics with relevant messages at particular times of the year.

Actions you can take

  1. Only flush the 3Ps - meet the unflushables
  2. Find out about Blueprint for Water
  3. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  4. Visit the beachwatch website
  5. Join a beach clean
  6. Check out water quality before you head to the beach
  7. Join the fight against the 'unflushables'
  8. Organise a beach clean
  9. Make sure popular swimming beaches are protected

Did you know?…

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be 6 times the size of the UK

UK seas and shores are places for leisure, sport, and holiday destination for millions annually


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