1 January 0001

Sunnyside Ocean Defenders

Sunnyside Primary School in Glasgow’s #DrainCampaign

Being Ocean Defenders, the group had been on many beach cleans before.  In fact, they sponsored a beach at Prestwick through the Marine Conservation Society scheme.  But this beach wasn’t one of the sandy ones along the west coast.  This was Arrochar, the picturesque village at the top of Loch Long.

Except the scene that met this group of Primary Seven’s wasn’t picturesque.  In fact, the amount of litter and microplastic that lay before them was pretty grim.

Wellies on and sleeves rolled up the Ocean Defenders didn’t hesitate in getting stuck in, because they knew that they weren’t here just as part of the solution.  They, and the litter from the city they lived in, were a big part of the problem.

Despite being around 40 miles from their urban school, most of the marine litter they had found at Arrochar wasn’t created by local people, it came from towns and cities…it came from their streets.

It was in 2015 when the school took their first group of Ocean Defenders to Arrochar and by 2018, they realised that the only solution would be to try and stop the litter at source.  That meant with us. Having created several successful campaigns previously, the Ocean Defenders of 2018 launched #DrainCampaign.  The idea was simple.  To create a visual reminder that litter dropped in our cities can become marine pollution.

Giving it a Scottish spin, the children invented characters such as Crabbit Crab, Scunnered Seal and Fumin’ Fulmar – each equally annoyed at humans’ bad habits; each with their own type of marine pollution.

This has caught the imagination of the public with the Ocean Defenders taking it on tour to schools and the Inner Hebrides, getting the backing of the First Minister when she visited the school, winning a Nature of Scotland Award for their efforts and pushing for it to become a feature beside Glasgow’s drains – backed by the Lord Provost who joined them on a clean at Arrochar.  But most importantly, inspiring other young people to do something to protect our oceans.

Our message of hope for COP26 is: “We have 1 Chance 2 Change; young people will ensure that adults put the 'change' in climate change.

From Aaron, Amber and Marc all aged 11.