A swear box to help the oceans

A powerful new campaign will launch today inviting people to donate to the UK’s leading marine charity every time they forget their reusable bags, bottles and coffee cups.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) wants people across the UK to remember never to leave home without their reusable mugs and bags, rather than buying single-use plastic which then ends up in our ocean.

The campaign was dreamt up by creative agency BBH on a pro-bono basis, made possible by Ocean Outdoor, who have pledged support to MCS over the next three years. The adverts –which will run across social media and on Ocean Outdoor billboards across the UK including Westfield London, Bullring Birmingham and Manchester and Edinburgh city centres and on social media – cleverly feature single-use items floating in water, including an old plastic bag, a takeaway plastic coffee cup, and a small plastic water bottle.

The ads urge people to “Donate your Guilt” with a £3 text donation to the charity, which works tirelessly to protect our seas and oceans and runs the hugely popular citizen science survey, the Great British Beach Clean, every year.

The thought-provoking campaign is not designed to let people off the hook when they forget their re-usable items, but to encourage societal and behavioural change in reminding people not to buy single-use plastic every day if they can avoid it.

MCS Director of Fundraising and Marketing, Mike Crossley said: “This is our swear box for the oceans. We want to help change people’s habits. We think that asking people for a small donation when they’re feeling guilty will help them remember the next time they leave home.”

“We want people to ditch single-use plastic so that it doesn’t end up littering our beaches and polluting our waterways. We want people to remember their reusable mug when they buy their morning coffee, to carry their water bottle with them rather than buying a single-use plastic bottle for those thirsty moments, and to remember their tote bag when they buy their groceries.

“What better way to get us all to remember the cost to the environment of unnecessary plastic, than by making us think through our purses and wallets. We all feel a bit guilty when we forget our reusable bags, bottles and mugs, but we are all human – even the most committed of us slip up sometimes.”

MCS has run a series of highly successful campaigns in recent years which have led to policy changes by governments across the UK. The charity called for a plastic bag charge to discourage single-use plastic bag usage and led calls for a money-back recycling system – known as a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) – for glass and plastic drinks bottles and cans which is being introduced in Scotland and is currently under consideration in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Jon Peppiatt, Chairman at BBH, said: “We have been very happy to give our time to help MCS with this campaign. It’s such an important issue that I believe we all care about but we need to do more, hopefully, this work will help change some behaviours and make a difference.”

Crossley added: “As a charity, we and our volunteers dedicate our time to cleaning up and protecting our beaches, seas and wildlife. We hope our campaign will have an impact on people’s behaviour in a way which will have a lasting impact and at the same time will allow us to continue our work through valuable donations.”

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