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M&S Calls for Volunteers to Clean Beaches Across Northern Ireland

21 April 2015

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is today calling on its Northern Ireland customers to join its team of employees, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Canal & River Trust to help clear litter from beaches and canals.

The call comes after an MCS survey published last week showed that litter on UK beaches rose by 6.4% last year.

The 4th annual Big Beach Clean-up will clean 135 beaches and canals up and down the country, including the following locations across the province:

  • Portballintrae – Thursday 7th May at 10.30am
  • Hazelbank, Belfast – Monday 11th May at 10.00am
  • Warrenpoint, Newry – Monday 11th May at 10.00am
  • Ballyholme, Bangor – Wednesday 13th May at 10.00am

Between the 7th and 13th May over 8,000 people (3,000 M&S employees and 5,000 M&S customers) are expected to take part. Last year 250km of coastline and canals were cleared with 4,000 bin bags full of litter collected.  

Customers can find their nearest beach clean and sign-up at www.mcsuk.org/foreverfish.

Most of the litter collected will be common waste items such as wrappers, drink bottles and lids as well as fishing lines. It is also likely to include wet wipes, with last week’s MCS survey reporting a 50% rise in the number found on beaches in 2014 compared to the previous year.

Last year’s Big Beach Clean-up cleared 10,950 cotton buds, 21,900 wrappers and 55,600 plastic pieces. Cleaners also found an array of unusual items including false teeth, a hammer, a plastic leg, two motorbikes, a Smurf, a breast implant and an Action Man.

Ryan Lemon, M&S Head of Region for Northern Ireland said: “The Big Beach Clean-up is a great way for customers and M&S colleagues to volunteer, help their local community and protect our precious marine life.  It’s a great fun, outdoor activity that gives our customers and staff the opportunity to make a difference by helping the environment and their community.”

Samantha Fanshawe, MCS Chief Executive, said: “The Big Beach Clean-up has grown year on year, involving thousands of amazing volunteers ready to don gloves and bags and pick up the rubbish left behind by others, washed down from rivers or discarded from fishing boats and ships.  Beach litter levels around the UK are sadly increasing – by over 6% according to our most recent UK survey.  This fantastic partnership between M&S, charities and communities raises awareness of the issue and the need for nation-wide action across government, industry and voluntary sectors to stop litter at source.”

Richard Parry, Chief Executive at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Canals are havens in our towns and cities.  They are home to many endangered and much loved wildlife as well as places for people to get away from it all.  Local communities already do so much to help us look after the waterways, and it’s particularly good to have the support of M&S to keep them special places.”

The M&S Big Beach Clean-up is part of M&S’ Forever Fish campaign which is funded by the profits from the 5p carrier bag charge in M&S foodhalls. Since its introduction in 2008, the charge has reduced carrier bag use by 75 per cent and raised over 8 million for good causes.  

Since the M&S Big Beach Clean-up began in May 2012 over 20,000 people have taken part and 62.5 tonnes of litter – the weight of Challenger 2 tank – has been cleared from our canals and beaches.

Customers can find out more here and follow the event on Twitter (or search #beachclean) and Facebook.

M&S Big Beach Clean-up