A local environmental group is celebrating its first birthday after collecting more than 400 black bags of litter over the past year.

Friends of Dumbarton Foreshore now boasts a pool of 30 members who rotate between clean ups at Castlegreen, Levengrove and Havoc, as well carrying out the occasional litter pick on the Leven.

And they have made some pretty interesting finds along the way, including a dead python, fox skulls, a 100-year-old coin and even a pair of leopard-print knickers as well as ridding the area of no less than 24 tyres, two-half sofas, two paddling pools and a freezer.

The group was started by Zoe Weir who noticed a litter problem when she started to walk her Milton rescue dog by the shore and meadow at Havoc with her husband Councillor Iain McLaren a few years ago.

She told the Reporter: “We quickly fell in love with the views and the wildlife and we wanted to do something about it.

“We learned from Blue Planet this is a worldwide problem, and we found out that because of north-westerly wind direction here, more of the water-borne litter is deposited on the north shore.

“We found out the council don’t own the shore below the high-tide line, although they do some shore-cleaning with their payback team anyway.

“Other local places like Helensburgh, Inverclyde and Arrochar had beach-cleaning groups, but we couldn’t find one here.

“So in January last year, we started litter-picking ourselves on our dog-walks, but we realised we needed help."

Read more: Friends of Dumbarton Foreshore chosen to spearhead River Clyde Upstream Battle campaign

Despite struggling to recruit volunteers in the beginning, with the help of local group Plastic-Free WD and the nice weather last summer, their numbers soon increased.

After pausing for the winter they reconvened in February to find bad weather such as Storm Diana had dumped thousands of new litter items along the shore.

Thankfully their numbers continued to increase and last month they were delighted to be one of those selected to spearhead an ambitious Keep Scotland Beautiful project to clean up the River Clyde called Upstream Battle.

Indeed, as Zoe says much of the litter comes in off the water and we all need to mindful of how our actions impact the problem.

She added: "Around 20 per cent comes off ships and there are various schemes trying to reduce this, such as Fishing For Litter and the Green/Blue initiative.

"We have a problem with SRDs (sewage-related detritus) as too many people are flushing non-flushable items such as sanitary waste, cotton buds and wipes.

"When storms cause high waters, SRDs are washed into our rivers via sewage plant overflow, which was never designed to cope with non-flushable items. No matter what the packet says, these should never go down the loo.

"The biggest litter group of all is single-use plastics. Recycling is better than nothing but has limitations. The only real solution is to stop buying it whenever possible."

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