Stonehaven Campaign Gone Global

By Jane Cruickshank / September 17, 2019
Dog with plastic bottle in mouth

While out in about in Stonehaven, you may notice dog owners picking up some litter while walking their dogs. Stonehaven is the home of PAWS on PLASTIC and we have 250 members committed to keeping our town, coastline and countryside clean and beautiful.

Founded in Stonehaven in November 2018 by Primary School Teacher, Marion Montgomery, Paws on Plastic, invites dog owners to simply pick up a couple of pieces of litter while out walking their beloved dogs.

Marion has kindly sent The Bellman an account of her dogged determination to reduce plastic litter.

Following some Eco research for school, I joined a programme run by the British Council which encouraged participants to start a local action around plastic pollution. I was then off work due to ill health and walking my dog as part of my recovery. My dogs have always picked up plastic bottles which I then felt compelled to put in the bin or take home to recycle so it seemed a natural thing to choose.  In November 2018, I simply started a Facebook group, invited around 100 friends with dogs to join and it’s grown amazingly since then.  

Ten Thousand Members in 50 Countries

Thanks to presence on social media, Paws on Plastic now boasts almost 10,000 members in over 50 countries around the world from Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australasia and Africa!  We are adding around 1,000 new members every month and have featured in local and national newspapers, radio and TV.  In June I received a Volunteering Award from Aberdeenshire Council and this month I was awarded ‘Hero of the Month’ award by Keep Scotland Beautiful. The support has just been amazing and completely overwhelming!

I think the strength of Paws on Plastic is its simplicity.    Dog owners are already out there walking their dogs every day.  We see the litter. We have a spare bag in our pocket & it just takes a second to pick up a couple of pieces. No extra time or effort is required yet if we all do our own wee bit, with almost 10,000 of us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, that’s over 40,000 pieces a day, (a couple of pieces on a just a couple of daily walks) or 14.6 MILLION a year although, as you will see from members’ posts on Facebook, most people pick up more than 2 pieces each as it is rather addictive!  Everyone is busy nowadays but if you have a dog, you’ve got to walk it and it only takes a second to do your own we bit and feel good about it.

With around 9 million dogs in the UK alone, imagine the impact if we all did our own small bit.

The instructions are simple: members pick items up using a spare poo bag and take it home to empty, into a recycling bin if possible, saving the bag to use again, then post a lovely photo of theirdog on our “Paws on Plastic” FaceBook Page to celebrate their efforts and spread the word.

If you have a dog, we invite you to join and take. We are proud of the impact this campaign has made in keeping our town clean and helping to protect our seas.  Look for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Members are responsible for keeping themselves and any accompanying companions safe. All pieces picked up are helping to reduce the amount of plastic ending up in the sea.

It seems that many dogs have been trying to tell us to do this for years.  With the effect of plastic pollution becoming more and more evident, isn’t it great that we are finally listening?