A Stonehaven woman’s campaign to tackle the mountain of plastic pollution contaminating the environment is going from strength to strength.
Primary school teacher Marion Montgomery is urging dog walkers across the country to pick up litter as part of the new initiative.
She launched Paws on Plastic last November and it has captured the public’s imagination.
It calls on people to pick up at least two pieces of rubbish - or more if they can - every time they take their animals out for exercise.
Her inspiration came from her dogs fetching discarded bottles while out on daily walks.
It was her dog Murphy, who died in 2015, who first planted the idea of collecting the debris.
He was always finding waste items and bringing them back, forcing her to decide between tossing them back on the ground or disposing of them responsibly.
When her current dog, a labrador called Paddy, continued the habit she decided to recruit other pet owners to help clean up the landscape.
Marion said: “It really seems to have caught on.
“We have nearly 200 members in Stonehaven now who are definitely making an impact in the town.
“It’s just fantastic the way the message is spreading.”
She explained that the advantage of the campaign was it’s simplicity - dog owners were already out walking their pets every day.
She added: “Quite a few people are doing it anyway and it’s just giving it a name.
“Even if people are just picking up a couple of bits, it does add up and make a difference.
“It’s not going to solve the plastic pollution crisis but it does make you think.
“If the streets are cleaner then people are less likely to drop litter in an area that’s litter free.”
Environmental campaigners commended the initiative but said more must be done to cut out unnecessary plastic.
Calum Duncan, head of conservation Scotland for the Marine Conservation Society, said: “Any initiative to remove the plastic from our beaches and seas is to be welcomed. “However, whilst we must all keep doing all we can to clear up the plastic waste already washing up, this is only a symptom of the wider problem of over-consumption in a linear economy.
“There is still a long, long way to go until the cause of leakage of plastics into the sea is stopped.”
Plastic pollution is a major problem globally – estimates suggest up to 12 million tonnes of synthetic material ends up in oceans every year.
It takes hundreds of years to break down and causes significant harm to wildlife.