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[-] Do something!

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Pick up some litter

Litter picking safety

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PICK UP SOME LITTER

"Picking up litter has proved such a positive experience for me. I get up early, have the world to myself for a couple of hours. The 2 hours walking each day has made me pretty fit too"
Rob Kevan, aka "Rob the Rubbish", Powys

Getting Started

Carrier bag full of rubbish
Collect this much litter on your next walk and you'll be an official Litter Hero
All you need to get started litter picking is a carrier bag and some gloves. Just take them with you the next time you go for a walk and pick up any litter you come across. It's that easy.
Oh, before you go, it would be a good idea to read the safety notes.

Equipment

If you are going to some serious litter picking, as opposed to just taking a carrier bag with you on a walk, the equipment you will need is: You should be able to get all these for free from your Council's waste department. Some councils, such as Tewkesbury, run formal volunteer litter picking schemes, others are just happy to support volunteers that approach them.

Litter Pickers

Tong type litter picker Grabber type litter picker
In my experience, tong type litterpicker are the easiest to use and most robust. These ones are made by Robert Acton Product Development and cost around 22. I'm less keen on "grabber" type litterpickers. They aren't as quick and easy to use, are less robust, and the string in the mechanism gradually stretches resulting in the jaws loosing their bite.
Keep Wales Tidy

Keep Wales Tidy Litter Champions

If you live in Wales, you can get all the equipment you need - litter picker, gloves, hi-vis vest, bin bags- and free insurance cover, by joining Keep Wales Tidy Litter Champions scheme. Click on the logo for more information.


Be brave

Getting started litter picking can be a bit daunting - it does feel a bit embarrassing at first. When he first started litter picking in Llanwrtyd Wells, Rob "Rob the Rubbish" Kevan used to go out first thing in the morning so no one would see him. My advice is just to go for it - the feeling of embarrassment soon passes. And it's actually quite important people see you at it: firstly, so they know it is being done by a volunteer and not the council, and secondly because seeing you picking it up will deter people from dropping litter.


Before litter pick - Buckholt Wood After litter pick Buckholt Wood

Before

After

Adopt your favourite spot

Litter has a habit of returning quickly. Within one or two days of clearing an area, the first crisp packet can be back. This is why regular light litter picking is more effective than an occassional "blitz" or "spring clean". You can make a big difference by "adopting" somewhere and commiting to litter pick it on a regular basis, say once every 2-3 weeks. It might be a mile or so of a country lane, the parking at local beauty spot, a favourite walk, a village green or a bit of common ground. You don't have to apply to the Council or anything like that, to do this. You just decide to do it. Just say to yourself "I'm going to look after this spot" and do it.
You can see details of the locations I have adopted on the My Litter Picking page.
If you do adopt somewhere, I'd be delighted to hear about it and I'll mention it on this website - click here to email me

Getting rid of the rubbish

If you have just collected a carrier bag's worth of litter, it's easy just to take it home and pop it in your wheelie bin. Please, do take it home. If you leave it at the spot you've just picked you won't be helping much.
If you have got enthusiastic and collected two or more refuse sacks of litter, it's OK to leave them in situ and get the Council to come and pick them up. Make sure the bags are well sealed (knotted or tied with string) and leave them in a reasonably prominent location. If you can be bothered, it's a good idea to stick a little notice on them saying the sacks contain litter. That way they won't be mistaken for fly-tipping. Then just let your Council's waste department know where they are - the easiest way is to use their website - see Chivvying your Council. It may take them a week or so to pick it up.

Recycling and cash

If you feel up to sorting the litter you collect, you can recycle some of it and in some cases get some money for it. Almost all Council and supermarket recycling centres will take Aluminium cans amd increasingly they have faclities for plastic bottles too.
The Cash for Cans scheme pays by the Kg for Aluminium. It doesn't work out at a huge sum per can, so don't bak on it to fund your retirement, but if you are doing a large litter pick it could be worth it. Some Tesco stores will take Alu cans and refund a Clubcard point for every two cans - there's a list of participating stores here. (Thanks to Litter Hero Richard Mott for letting me know about this scheme.)

Insurance

If you read any of the guides to running an organised litter pick, i.e. one involving a number of people, they will advise you to take out Public Liability Insurance for the event. And if you join one of the formal Voluntary Litterpicking scheme this insurance will normally be in place. I have not taken any advice, but I do not believe it is necessary to have insurance for the type of ad-hoc litter picking discussed above, i.e. going for a walk and doing a bit of litter picking on the way.

If you are looking for insurance for a litter picking event, try Zurich Municipal on 0845 602 3896 - they are about the most helpful I have come across.



Copyright © Tim Barnes 2008