Protecting our Water

As we approach this year's Bag the Bruck it is useful to remind ourselves of our role in the water cycle. This short animation helps us reflect on the choices we can make and the effects they can have.

Bagging the Bruck in 2016

This year's bruck bagging season has got off to a great start - Glaitness pupils have started cleaning up their local area. Groups of classes have been  litter picking at The Peedie Sea, Scapa beach and the local paths and areas around the school.

At The Peedie Sea

Team work at Scapa

42 bags!

Keep Scotland Beautiful Hero of the Month Award

This month children at glaitness School had a lovely surprise when the whole school was nominated and won the national Keep Scotland Beautiful 'Hero of the Month Award' for their Pick Up Three Pieces work. Just in time to give them a boost as they prepare for 'Bag the Bruck'!

The Mission Explore group who lead the Pick Up Three Pieces initiative with the award.

Pick Up Three PIeces began at Glaitness School and we have worked hard to keep it going and to try to get the whole Orkney community and visitors to Orkney involved. Our islands act like a net catching a lot of the litter that is in the oceans. Once a year we have a big clean up but this is no longer enough. With every tide and storm more rubbish gets dumped on our beaches. If everybody picked up a few pieces every time they go to the beach or shore  throughout the year we can make a difference. Even just picking up one piece might save an anilaml from eating it or getting tangled in it and drowning. The ocean is full of plastic which doesn't break down, it breaks up into tinier and tinier pieces which eventually end up in our food chain too.

Most litter in the sea comes from the land. We work hard to make sure liiter in our playground doeas not end up in the sea. We regularly use our litter pickers to pick up litter in our school grounds and around our local area.  We have put stickers on bins near our school to try to encourage everyone to join in. At some of the beaches there is a big bin with a sticker on it which asks people to Pick Up Three PIeces and gives them some facts about the problem of marine litter.

Orkney Islands Council helps us by emptying the bins, but the people who make it a success are all the people who pick up some pieces of litter. We think when they see us do it they will feel they can do it too and will get into good habits about how they look after their rubbish and how much disposable plastic they buy and how much rubbish they create and how they look after their own rubbish too

The children have said:

'When you are finished tidying up an area and you look round it and its clean you feel proud of yourself and happy with what you have done.'

'We feel like we are making a difference to animals' lives and the environment'

'Every time you pick up three pieces you are saving some birds or animals.'

Bag the Bruck 2015

This week all around Orkney community groups, schools and individuals are removing tons of litter from our beaches, shores and verges - most of which is plastic.

 Go litter warriors!

Shapinsay Bag the Bruck 2014

The children at Shapinsay School tackled the annual bruck bagging on the shores at Sandgarth beach.
Here are a few examples of what they found:
black plastic sheeting (baling wrap?)
broken creel
small drinks bottles
plastic lids
plastic toy digger
food containers
parts of pontoons
cartridge shells
electrical wire
fridge magnet
Awesome effort Litter Warriors!
Most of this bruck was made of plastic.
Some of it made specially for disposing of immediately after it was used!
A couple of days after the bruck bagging, the Pick Up Three Pieces team visited Shapinsay and the children had the chance to see some of Anne Bignall's pictures of underwater Orkney and the amazing creatures that live around our shores.
The children recognised a few of the items in the PU3P collection of marine litter from their Bag the Bruck expedition and found out that the cartridge shells probably come all the way from Canada. They also saw items that had come from Norway. They already knew that this litter poses a real problem of entanglement for marine animals and can be mistaken for food by birds and other creatures as it swirls around the North Atlantic.

These well informed litter warriors are making a difference by being active global citizens and taking responsibility for the environment around them.
Well done Shapinsay School!

Firth Bag the Bruck 2014

In the last week or two piles of bruck have been deposited beside our  beaches, shores and ditches all over Orkney. The bags are often picked up quite promptly so it is easy to underestimate just how much hard work has gone into Bagging the Bruck and the volume of litter that has been removed from the environment. Every pack of gloves and bags that is sent out is also followed up by a return form to let the organisers know how many bags were filled at each location. This does the job of letting the bin men know where to collect but also allows us to create a record of this year's efforts.
Individuals and community groups elect to clean specific beaches or stretches of shoreline or ditch, but a some of the picking is done by classes (or whole schools ) of children.

Some schools, like Firth, have shoreline right outside their school grounds!

Thank you to the children, staff and parents who join in and make Bag the Bruck so successful.

Well done litter warriors!

A guest post by Mary Harris - The children of North Walls School show they care for their beach.

Thanks to the Pick Up 3 Pieces campaign, we now have a large bin for beach rubbish installed at The Ayre, a causeway near Longhope. On both sides of this road are very special bays, delightful in many ways with some interesting flora, fauna and geology. On the south side a stretch of glorious sand attracts both local and visiting folk, be they walkers, paddlers, seal watchers, fishermen or just beach lovers and in a certain light the sea sparkles in exquisite turquoise hues. Occasionally we are lucky enough to see orcas or basking sharks enter the bay.  Across the road on the other side is the more sheltered North Bay, rich in various shell fish and marine life, it is important to many birds including ducks, divers and waders.

The  south bay known as Aith Hope opens out into the Pentland Firth and unfortunately some of the rubbish that drifts about in the open seas can find its way onto our lovely beach. Winter storms also bring in seaweed and much of the rubbish ends up tangled amongst this tide line. Some of this bruck travels a long way, for instance I have found lobster cage tags from Maine, USA and milk cartons from Norway. Dedicated Bag the Bruckers annually clean up as much rubbish as they can but the problem is constant.

Part of the PU3P campaign is to visit local schools and discuss with the children sea life, tides,  drifting patterns and  the issues and problems associated with marine litter, especially plastics, on our natural environment. The children of North Walls School recently had a visit from Lesley Mackay, founder of PU3P. Teachers and assistants then organised a trip to the beach for the children so they could put into context what they have discussed at school.


It was great to meet them on the shore and help them with the task in hand. Their enthusiasm and interest is a credit to their teachers and Lesley. They scurried about picking up stuff from the tiniest pieces of string to a welly boot, shotgun cartridges, rope, net, half a pair of spectacles, bottles and other plastic detritus. Two young girls sat in one place for a long time and sorted with utmost care through the seaweed picking out every piece of plastic they could see. While other pupils charged about more randomly picking up whatever caught their eye. I heard a teacher encouraging them by giving them a challenge like 'find six blue things' or 'three round things'. I thought this a great idea as too much choice confused the issue and rather than run about not knowing where to start they had a point of focus. I watched two small lads make a gallant effort to raise a large lump of old iron, that has laid half buried in the sand for decades.

In no time at all they had filled up their bags and it was back to the bin, some children dragging long lengths of rope.   Before dumping it all in the bin the booty was examined and the children rightfully praised for their outstanding effort. Co-incidentally it happened that it was bin day and the lorry turned up just at the right time. So they were able to watch the bin being hoisted up and the rubbish safely dumped inside the truck. I think for one or two children this was the icing on the cake!

So it is a step forward for our community to have this prominently placed bin with eye catching sticker. We hope it will stimulate future beach goers to follow the example our school children magnificently set and to pick up some rubbish and dispose of it in the bin.
Well done and thank you children, we are very proud of you all.