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Paws on Plastic

2011. Marion Montgomery

Marion Montgomery, from Aberdeenshire, is inspiring over 23,000 dog owners in the UK and worldwide to use their daily walks as an opportunity to pick up litter. 

Inspired by her dogs – her old labrador / collie cross Murphy, and, more recently her Labradors Paddy and Ted, who would often pick up plastic bottles when going on walks along the beach, Marion first launched her ‘Paws on Plastic’ community in 2018 on social media.  Quickly gaining a huge following across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, Marion decided to register the scheme as a charity and it’s now estimated that the community is helping remove 30 million pieces of litter every year. 

Marion’s simple but innovative campaign of picking up two pieces of rubbish when out dog walking not only helps tackle litter but protects dogs and other wildlife by keeping parks and green spaces free from potentially harmful litter.  ‘Paws on Plastic’ work closely with environmental organisations such as ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’, ‘Keep Britain Tidy’, ‘Keep Wales Tidy’, the ‘SSPCA’, ‘Surfers against Sewage’ and the ‘Marine Conservation Society’ and look to build collaborations with all organisations, groups, businesses and individuals working towards the protection of animals, communities and the environment.

Education on the consequences of litter is one of the key charitable aims of ‘Paws on Plastic’ and Marion gives talks to schools, working closely with Eco Schools, with community and youth groups and hopes to expand this within Scotland and across the UK.  

In a personal letter to Marion, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

“You have taken the simple but brilliant idea of picking up litter while walking your dogs Murphy, Paddy and Ted, and built a whole community of 23,000 fellow dog walkers who are now doing the same.

“’Paws on Plastic’ is already collecting a staggering 34 million pieces of litter every year and I am sure that number will only rise as more and more dog walkers join you.”

Secretary of State for Scotland, the Rt Hon Alister Jack, said: 

Cleaning up our environment doesn’t have to be difficult. Marion’s initiative is simple but brilliant – and hugely effective. By recruiting a clean-up army of 23,000 dog walkers at home and abroad, she’s improving our public spaces and, importantly, encouraging recycling. I’d like to congratulate her on this well-deserved award.”

Marion said:

“I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of our 23,000 amazing dog owners who take the time to pick up a few pieces of litter on walks to protect animals, communities and our precious environment.  Together we pick up well over 34 million pieces of litter every year.  All of us have the power to take such a simple, positive action that only takes a minute but makes an immediate, visible impact and has huge benefits for mental health.  I’d love to see it become just a normal part of an everyday dog walk and, with around 13.5 million dogs in the UK, just imagine the difference that it would make!  I hope that this encourages more dog owners to join us.”

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