Paws on Plastic

The first signs of spring have arrived and across the south, events and activities are underway for SCCAMP’s ‘Celebrating Canines and the Countryside’ week.

With our own ‘Leave only Pawprints’ self-led litter pick and the Great British Spring Clean this week we wanted to take the opportunity to thank all the local dog walking litter picking heroes and groups across the county who meet up to enjoy our beautiful countryside and coast and help to keep these special places clean.

We were lucky to catch up with Marion from Paws on Plastic, who told us all about how Paws on Plastic got started to now having 21,000 dog owners picking up an estimated 30 million pieces of litter.

“I started the group while on long term sick leave from my job as a primary teacher. I was left with post viral fatigue following shingles. Thankfully, as part of my Eco research I’d enrolled on a British Council programme encouraging people to start a local action in their area around plastic pollution and I was able to continue this via zoom.  The idea of Paws on Plastic came to me quite naturally as all I was doing was short daily walks with my dog and all my dogs have been attracted to plastic bottles so I’ve always put them in the bin after they’ve played with them.  I started noticing litter and that I was passing the same litter every day so decided to do something about it.

I started the Facebook group and added friends with dogs and it basically grew from there. We now have 21,000 members and followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  It’s a very simple idea that if we all do a little it adds up. When there are lots of us picking up every in the same area, it also has the double effect of reducing the amount dropped as studies show that fewer people drop litter in clean areas and I can certainly see this in Stonehaven where we have nearly 400 members.

It’s a fantastic thing for mental health and sense of positivity and achievement and is an activity that’s completely open to all. I can certainly testify myself to this. For this reason and to secure its future, I was keen for it to become a charity rather than some kind of business. We achieved charity status in September 2021 with the charitable aims of protecting wildlife, communities and the environment along with educating on the consequences of litter.

We are focussed on spreading our message and encouraging more dog owners to get involved with the aim of making picking up a few pieces of litter the norm on every walk. As responsible dog owners we already have spare bags in our pockets so no particular extra time or effort is required. It really does only take a minute but you can see the immediate effect that it makes.

 We have developed a new website which people can sign up with. We work closely with many different organisations with similar aims like Keep Britain Tidy, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Keep Wales Tidy, Scottish SPCA, RSPB etc along with going into schools.

With over 13 million dogs in the UK, just imagine how much litter could be removed and recycled if we all got involved.  A simple act can have an enormous impact when completed collectively.

With the GB Spring Clean running 21st March – 21st April, it’s a fantastic time to get involved.  Every piece of litter removed could save the life of an animal.”