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Britain's Litter Heroes

The Litter Hero Test

My Litter Picking

[+] Do something!

[+] Cotswold Litter Heroes
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Litter Horrors

Why we need a Bottle Bill

Litter links



October 2011
Peter Askin and KFC

KFCPeter Askin from Shaftesbury is a great example of how one person can make a difference. Already an established litter picker, in January 2011 Peter noticed an increase in litter after KFC opened a new outlet in the town. Peter wrote to the Chief Executive of KFC to alert him of the problem. To their credit KFC's response was rapid and positive - a meeting was quickly arranged between Peter and senior staff at Caskade Caterers , the franchisees who operate the outlet. After discussing the problem Caskade Caterers agreed to:
Peter said "Overall, I was really very pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the meeting, which, I felt, was very productive...they readily agreed to do far more than I had initially expected and I feel that I have made some useful contacts"
So, well done Peter and well done KFC and Caskade Caterers.

28 March 2011
McDonald's - the worst littered brand

National Litter Convention The latest survey from Keep Britain Tidy shows McDonalds is the most widely littered brand in the UK. The survey found that McDonald's accounted for 13% of litter, substantially ahead of Cadbury and Greggs in 2nd place with 6% and Wrigley and Coca-Cola in third place at 5%. Fast food in general accounted for 33% of litter, again well ahead of confectionery at 18%, and drinks at 15%. McDonalds response seems to consist of repeating its mantra about undertaking litter patrols within 100 yards of its outlets. This is appearing more and more like a fig leaf. Anyone who picks up litter knows McDonald's litter gets jettisoned from cars and messes up the environment miles from the outlet where it was brought.
Keep Britain Tidy's response to the findings was pretty underwelming too. It says it is working with McDonald's on its "Love where you live" campaign. I hope this involves a bit of tough love for McDonald's.
Here's a link to the full report Keep Britain Tidy - Branded Litter

1 February 2011
A McDonald's Litter Hero

National Litter Convention So, I'm driving home on Sunday afternoon afternoon and see some numpty has dumped the packaging from a McDonald's meal by the side of the road near Elkstone. I jump out of the car, take a photo and on Monday morning send off a letter to the nearest outlet at Cirencester, 6 miles away, asking them to pick up it. Now, I wasn't really expecting anything to happen - it was more about making a point about how McDonald's litter gets dropped miles from their restaurants. So on Tuesday afternoon I am quite surprised to get a call from a nice guy called Dave Roebuck who introduces himself as the restaurant manager and immediately promises to pick up the litter on his way home. So, congratulations to Dave for his positive attitude and prompt action, he's a credit to his company. However, I suspect even his patience might wear a bit thin if I started reporting every piece of McDonald's litter within a six mile radius of his restaurant.

16 December 2010
The National Litter Convention - A major step forward

National Litter Convention I took a bag of Cotswold litter a long to the first National Litter Convention at westminster Hall. This was the first such gathering of all the stakeholders involved in fighting litter and as such a major step forward. So, full marks should got to Steve Graham from DEFRA for organising it.
Pretty much anyone who is anyone from Government, the develoved administrations, industry, NGOs and the voluntary sector was there.
National Litter Convention
The main purpose of the event was to launch Keep Britain Tidy's new national campaign/brand "Love Where you live". I am normally pretty sceptical of these sorts of brands, but I think this one has legs. It is certainly an improvement on the Tidyman logo and will strike a chord with the majority of the population.

National Litter Convention

Of the eleven speakers, the ones that impressed where:
Bill Bryson - "'s an insult to a glorious landscape.." and his call for more bins.
Ken McMeikan, Greggs PLC - seriously committed to doing something about litter in the local communities around their shops.
Chap from Durham County Council - serious about enforcement "...our residents expect us to kick butt..."
Steve Stolesbury, Imperial Tobacco - for taking ownership of the problem "...50% of cigarette packets and butts are down to us"
Kirstie Allsopp - for lots of passion and energy and for saying that "Love where you live" might be a bit fluffy bunny for the youth market.

Brick bats go to the minister, Lord Henley for his underwhelming response to CPRE's research on bottle deposits schemes (does a Minister ever say what you want to hear?) and the lady from INCPEN for claiming that cans and bottles make up less than 10% of litter.

14 December 2010
BBC Inside Out West - Litter Heroes

Inside Out West did a great feature on Litter Heroes and the Bottle Deposit Scheme. You can catch the programme on the BBC iPlayer until 20th December - click here.
Huge thanks to producer Helen Shawcross and Reporter Alastair McKee for doing a great job.

December 2010
KWT Litter Champions

Keep Wales Tidy I recently found about the excellent Litter Champions scheme run by Keep Wales Tidy. Volunteers who subscribe to the scheme get a free litter picking kit (litter picker, gloves, hi-vis vest, bin bags) and free insurance cover. This is a great scheme for people (like me) who just want pick up litter when the urge takes them and don't particularly want to get involved in the formalities of organised litter picks. So far the scheme has recruited over 100 Champions. Well done to KWT for putting it together.
If you live in Wales and fancy giving it a go, click on the KWT logo to go to their website.

7 November 2010
The Unemployed and litter picking

So, Iain Duncan-Smith is proposing the long term unemployed be put to work litter picking. Well, having first started litter picking when I was unemployed, I can speak from some experience on the subject. I found that picking up litter was more fun than most of the things you get to do with your time when you are unemployed. Scouring jobsites, attending the job centre, endlessly revising your CV, filling in application forms, receiving those god-awful "Thanks, but no thanks" letters, watching too much daytime TV ... almost everything about being unemployed was soul destroying. By contrast, litter picking was (and still is) life enhancing. Being in the fresh air, getting some exercise and doing something worthwhile, kept me sane and helped me feel better about myself. However, had I been forced to go litter picking I'm not sure I would be quite so enthusiastic.
The other question with this initiative is "Will it help the fight against litter?". I am not so sure it will. To have impact on litter we need the majority of the population to feel OK about picking up litter. This idea is likely to exacerbate rather than reduce the stigma that prevents people from picking up litter i.e "If I pick up litter, people will think I am unemployed". Equally, some will take it as licence to drop litter i.e. "It's OK, the unemployed will pick it up".
So, my thoughts are by all means encourage the unemployed to pick up litter - it will help them back into work - but keep it voluntary, i.e.more carrot than stick.

15 July 2010
Refundable deposits - a major step forward

Today the case for refundable container deposits (bottle bill) took a major step foward with the publication of CPRE's report "Have we got the bottle?". The CPRE commissioned consultants Eunomia to undertake an independent assessment of the costs and benefits of introducing a UK container deposit scheme. The report concludes that a deposit refund scheme that could reduce drinks litter by 90% would cost of the order of 84 million to set up and 700 million per year to run. This puts a serious question mark over the 4-7 billion set up figure that DEFRA have been quoting in recent years. I urge anyone who is concerned about litter to draw this report to attention of their MP and encourage the government to look at this issue seriously.
The report can be downloaded from the CPRE's site

25 August 2010

I am indebted to Litter Hero Tony Langham for an entertaining phone call and for bringing to my attention two anti-plastic bag campaigns: SCRAP Salisbury City Residents Against Packaging and Greener Upon Thames . They both look like great projects.

21st June 2010
An African Litter Heroine

ZimbabweWell, I have finally found a country with a worse litter problem than the UK - Zimbabwe. I'm just back from a business trip to Harare and it was sad to see litter covering all the roadside verges (some of it is the old currency - you can find the odd billion dollar note in it)) and piles of rubbish in the streets. The good news is that someone is trying to do something about it. I was lucky enough to meet Ann Hamilton-King an extraordinary lady (landscape gardener, business woman,'s a long list) who is organising a clean up. She nagged the city's Mayor into providing some trucks and mobilised an army of 200 women to help by bribing them with promise of mosquito nets for their children.

25th April 2010
Coca-cola litter - more than one every 20m

Coca-cola litter Today I litter picked exactly one mile (1,609m) of the B4070, Leckhampton Hill road - a pretty average "B" road running from the outskirts of Cheltenham up to the A417 trunk road at the Air Balloon. From this one mile, I picked up 86 items of littered Coca-Cola brand products, i.e. Coke, Fanta, Relentless, Oasis, Dr Pepper. That's one very 18.7m.

13th April 2010
Well done Bev!

Inspired by Faith Eckersall's article in the Bournemouth Daily Echo (see 2nd April below) Litter Heroine Bev Miller has set up Chritters - Christchurch litter pickers. They are doing a great job - see newspaper article.

5th April 2010
The Litter Heroines of Mill Bank School Cardiff

Mill Bank Litter HeroinesI am delighted that Mike Jones wrote and told me about the work of the pupils at Mill Bank Primary School in Cardiff. Not only do the the girls do regular litter picks but they've done a great job of analysing the litter and talking to their Council. For their outstanding work. I'm delighted to add them to the Litter Hero Map of Great Britain

2nd April 2010
What does it take to be a Litter Hero?

Reporter Faith Eckersall as written an excellent article for the Bournemouth Daily Echo
What does it take to be a Litter Hero?

30th March 2010
Litter Hero Map of Great Britain

Thanks to an idea from Jessica Hasler from Findochty, Banffshire I have a created a Litter Hero Map of Great Britain. It shows the location and tells the stories of over 100 amazing volunteer litter pickers. These are people who do give a damn and are quietly getting on with keeping their part of the country clean. Congratulations to all of them.

22th March 2010
Hats off to Torquay

I was in Torquay for a convention this weekend. When I managed to escape from proceedings and have a walk around the town I was really impressed by how litter free the town was. A great example of how pleasant things can be if we get things right. Outstanding.

27th February 2010
And the award goes to ...BBC Suffolk!

If there was an award for Best Anti-litter Campaign I think BBC Radio Suffolk would walk away with it. Their campaign to reduce litter in Suffolk is inspired - it's engaging, imaginative and fun, and not at all nannying. They have distributed 20,000 "Don't be a Tosser " beermats and 10,000 car stickers, they've got school kids to do a song and pop video and they are engaging community groups and business across the piste. And it is sustained. If every county had a BBC Suffolk we could make a substantial improvement to litter. Congratulations to Mark Murphy, Rob Dunger and the whole team at BBC Suffolk for making it happen.
BBC Suffolk - Don't be a Tosser

25th February 2010
"Litter Heroes ...has done something rather useful" Jeremy Paxman

Read Jeremy Paxman's Guardian Online article commenting on "What's littering Britain?"
Litter: our legacy to future generations

24th February 2010
Litter heroes reveal Britain's worst littered brands today released the results of survey identifying Britain's worst littered brands.

Volunteer litter pickers from Cornwall to the Isle of Skye helped undertake the survey by picking up 1-2 sacks of litter each (a total of 7,800 items), sorting them by type and brand, and recording the results. Litter Heroes' Tim Barnes then collated the results to produce a picture of the nation's litter.

Coca-Cola litterThe survey reveals Coca-Cola is the most littered brand with the company's products accounting for 7.8% of the litter collected and being present in 94% of the sites surveyed
Walkers Crisp was found to be the second most littered brand, accounting for 4.1% of litter and being prenet in 90% of the sites.
In third position was McDonald's accounting for 3.1% of total litter and 28% of all fast food litter. McDonalds packaging was found in 75% of sites surveyed.

The full report (20 pages, 3MB PDF) can be downloaded from What's Littering Britain?

26th January 2010 - Duke of Edinburgh picks up litter

Well done him! Full story and pictures in the Daily Mail

January 2010 Litter and Snow

Snow litter Overnight, four inches of snow gave the Cotswolds a completely litter free landscape.

Red Bull Litter But guess what the very first piece of litter to return was ...

July 2009 "Litter Ye Not!" Litter Heroes in the Daily Mail

To read the full article click here

Copyright © Tim Barnes 2008