The Great British Spring Clean got off to a flying start over the weekend as thousands rolled up their sleeves to tidy up their communities. Pictured: Ivy Curtin, 3, litter picking in Cambridgeshire
The Great British Spring Clean got off to a flying start over the weekend as thousands rolled up their sleeves to tidy up their communities.
One volunteer said there was such enthusiasm for the tidy-ups that picking up litter had become ‘the new rock and roll’, and added that 800 people had signed up to clean her area in just three years.
Another spoke of recruiting more than 400 volunteers in the past year as lockdown meant more families have been enjoying the outdoors.
The target of cleaning one million miles of the UK was in touching distance yesterday, as the number hit 972,306 miles thanks to more than 150,000 volunteers.
The Great British Spring Clean – which is organised by Keep Britain Tidy and backed by the Daily Mail – runs until June 13. Philippa Anderson, the deputy chairman of Keep Britain Tidy, has praised the huge turnout.
She said: ‘Littering is a crime. It’s encouraging to have so many volunteers who want to send a strong message that rubbish is not acceptable. People want to see a clean, green Britain after the pandemic and the Great British Spring Clean is helping deliver this.’
Roma Seth, 51, formed the Long Eaton Mess Collectors in her town in Derbyshire three years ago and it has gone from strength to strength.
Yesterday the musician went litter picking in Toton, Nottinghamshire.
The married mother-of-two said: ‘I started [litter picking] as an individual and then formed a group. It’s just grown so much. We started in Long Eaton three years ago and now we have 780 volunteers. A lot of people faced with these huge stories of ocean plastic, pollution and deforestation can feel so powerless.
‘But this is one proactive thing you can do to make a difference.’
The target of cleaning one million miles of the UK was in touching distance yesterday, as the number hit 972,306 miles thanks to more than 150,000 volunteers [Stock image]
Mrs Seth, who is a fan of punk rock bands such as The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers, leads music groups with adults and children.
She said: ‘My business stopped during lockdown because we weren’t allowed to do any music groups.
‘Litter picking is the new rock and roll. It’s the punk attitude of don’t wait for people to do something for you. In our area, any litter that gets dropped could remain there for six months before it gets picked up if we didn’t do it.’
Yesterday Gary Rumens, 35, a toy shop manager who founded the 400-plus group Clean and Green Castlefield in Manchester a year ago, said: ‘There has been a huge increase in people litter picking. It’s a good activity to get out and help the community, and it’s good for your mental and physical well-being.’
In Castle Point, Essex, volunteers were carrying out a 12-hour litter pick, while in Swinton, Manchester, Wardley Gardeners collected 40 bags of rubbish. Meanwhile, at a beach in Dalmeny, Scotland, Clermiston Litterati and Surfers Against Sewage picked up ‘seven big bags’ with ‘horrible pieces of polystyrene and plastic shards washed up on the shore’.
The Mail has highlighted the scourge of waste with our Turn the Tide on Plastic campaign.
For more info go to gbspringclean.org
By Jennie Bond
Now that restrictions have eased and hot weather has finally arrived, we can all get out and spend time with our friends and family, which is wonderful.
But here in Devon, we’re also bracing ourselves for the deluge of rubbish heading our way.
Pictures showing the litter-strewn beaches and beauty spots where people chose to enjoy the sun this weekend are a prequel of what’s to come during the summer months as more people than ever will head to the British coast for their holidays.
Every couple of months, word gets passed around our South Devon village that it’s time for a litter pick on the little beach that everyone living here is so very fond and proud of.
The following weekend a good dozen of us will head down there, armed with flasks of tea, gardening gloves and loads of bin bags.
By lunchtime there will be a small mountain of rubbish that my husband, Jim, will help pile up with his tractor and trailer.
Mostly it’s what picnickers have left behind. But you can’t afford to be too squeamish about what else you might have to pick up.
There’s usually a dirty nappy or two, loads of little bags of dog poo and my grimmest recent find was a pair of men’s underpants.
I didn’t examine them very closely. But I did think that whatever reason the owner had to take them off, I wished they had also decided to take them home instead of leaving behind for me to shove into my half-full bin bag.
Afterwards, the group will recycle what we can – the bottles, plastic and the cans – and take the rest to the tip, annoyed it will end up in landfill but glad that it’s at least off the beach.
It’s an effort, I won’t deny it, but an important one to make.
Pictures showing the litter-strewn beaches and beauty spots where people chose to enjoy the sun this weekend are a prequel of what’s to come during the summer months as more people than ever will head to the British coast for their holidays. Pictured: Jennie Bond clearing a beach in Devon
And actually, there’s always a great atmosphere and sense of camaraderie as we all get stuck in down there. It’s empowering to think you’re doing something good for the environment and your community instead of just moaning about the eyesore litter creates. But it’s impossible not to also feel annoyed and frustrated at the litter louts who created the problem in the first place.
You wonder why anyone might think it’s ever acceptable to leave behind various burnt-out disposable barbecues, food wrappers, drinks bottles and beer cans.
What on earth do they think happens to it all?
The culprits aren’t locals, that’s for sure. Everyone in our small community – around 200 of us live here – treasures this area of outstanding natural beauty far too much to do anything that might spoil it.
No, I’m afraid it’s the visitors who we’re very happy to share this wonderful area with. If only they could be bothered to take their litter away with them when they head back home.
If that lack of respect for the environment – because that’s what littering surely boils down to – carries on, then there’s every chance our little beach will end up looking like a giant litter bin too.
No one living here is going to let that happen: We’ll simply have to increase our clean-up patrols.
We shouldn’t have to pick up after others, but when you love where you live as much as we do, you don’t really have a choice.
Jim and I moved here 30 years ago with our then baby daughter, Emma. Since then, I don’t think a day has passed when I haven’t felt a sense of awe and gratitude for the landscape around us.
Our house is a few hundred yards above the sea – when you look out it’s all you can see.
If I’m up early enough, I’m treated to the astonishing spectacle of seeing the sun as it appears to rise up out of the water.
We shouldn’t have to pick up after others, but when you love where you live as much as we do, you don’t really have a choice,’ says Jennie Bond [Stock image]
At night, when there’s a full moon, it can look as though there’s a sparkling path of light leading across the sea that you could somehow walk along and climb right up to that beautiful shining globe.
When Emma was growing up, every evening we would walk down to the beach and say: ‘Hello sea, good night sea, see you tomorrow sea.’ That silly little rhyme became a family mantra, reflecting just how important our beautiful surroundings were to us – a daily reminder to always appreciate and care for the wonders our planet provides. Sadly, some people don’t see it that way. To them, the sea is just a vast expanse of water, something so enormous they kid themselves that whatever rubbish they chuck into it won’t get noticed or do any harm.
But they’re wrong. Beneath the sea, litter becomes so much more than an eyesore – the rubbish gets tangled up in reefs and chokes ocean life. In fact, it’s predicted that before long there will be more pieces of plastic in the ocean than there are fish in the sea.
What doesn’t stay underwater gets washed up on to our beach –and of course, every other one hugging the British coastline.
You can tell that some of it gets thrown off boats and ships – oil cans and bits of old rope are commonplace. I often find foreign toiletry bottles and feel a momentary stab of interest as I wonder where it might have come from.
But there’s always plenty of household garbage to pick up, too, along with empty takeaway containers that were probably thrown out of car windows and got blown down to the sea.
I’ve noticed an increase in littering over the many years we have lived here as there are lots more plastic bottles and discarded food wrappers.
I’ll never understand the mentality of a person who thinks there is anything remotely OK about littering. I rack my brain for an idea of why they do it and all I can come up with is that they are lazy, uncaring louts who have no respect for the environment and where other people live.
What we need to remember, though, is that there’s so much more we can do than tut and complain about litter and the mindset of all those infuriating litterbugs.
We can all make an enormous difference simply by picking it up. Whether that becomes a solo crusade, or something you embark on with friends and members of your community, be glad that you’re making a difference.