Thursday, 18 February 2016

Have you got the bottle?

Marine litter is a problem, this we know. Our Beachwatch surveys are telling us that the amount of litter found on our beaches has more than doubled in the last twenty years. We also know that a staggering 14% of that litter in Scotland is made up of drinks containers. MCS is working in many ways to help reduce this, one of the most recent being our involvement with the Have You Got the Bottle campaign in Scotland. The aim of the campaign is to introduce a deposit return system for drinks packaging. Marvellous idea you say, we think so too. But the first obstacle to making it happen is getting it through parliament.

Catherine, our Scotland Conservation Officer went along to a meeting with the other partners in the campaign where they posed the question, how are we going to get Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to pay attention and vote for it the deposit system? Luckily the Scottish MCS team and Sea Champions had a cunning plan that would raise awareness of the campaign and grab the MSPs’ attention. The plan? Instead of sending a standard written invitation to the parliamentary event they decided to put the invite on a plastic bottle that had been cleaned off of a local beach. Genius! Here’s how they did it…

It began with a beach clean. 129 MSPs to invite = 129 bottles. Sounds like a lot but sadly, they weren’t hard to find. Sea Champions Dawn and Chloe along with MCS colleague Dawn, MCS Trustee Leigh and some lovely volunteers from the Edinburgh Zoo helped collect over 200 bottles from Aberlady and Dalmeny beach.

Step 1 done, just a slight issue, where to put them?! Luckily Calum our Head of Conservation in Scotland kindly kept all the bottles in his shed before they were transported to Catherine’s spare room ready to be washed and labelled.

Next up, the label. Sea Champs Malin is pretty nifty with graphics and whizzed up a fab label to go on the bottles.

Then Sea Champs Kim and Eilidh spent a day cleaning and labelling all of our bottles ready to go to be sent out to the MSPs. (Check out the wee time lapse video they did here.)

To help drum up some more support our Volunteer Manager Matt with the help of Sea Champ Neil headed down to the beach to make a video showing just how big the problem is that went out on social media. Check it out here.

Back in the office MCS’s Dr Sue Kinsey was busy writing our official response to a call for evidence on the proposed deposit return system by Zero Waste Scotland.

Catherine went along to the meeting on the day and tells us a little about how it went:

"There was a full room and at least 9 MSP’s present along with a number of other staff who had been sent with their bottles in the MSP’s place due to other commitments. We even had one MSP ask to take part in the next beach clean in his constituency so a brilliant success! John from the Association to Protect Rural Scotland specifically thanked MCS for all our work in front of the whole attendance including Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead who absolutely loved the bottles!"

This really was a superb team effort between the MCS Scottish program staff and Sea Champions.

We’d like to say a HUGE thank you to our lovely volunteers who help made this happen.

To find out more about the Have You Got the Bottle campaign click here and why not follow Catherine on Twitter or Matt on Facebook to see what else our Scottish team and Sea Champions are up to.