The Mail's war on litter is relaunched

The Mail’s war on litter is relaunched as shocking images of our parks and beaches prove we have to fight back against the selfishness that shames Britain

  • A nationwide campaign to clean up Britain relaunched after being postponed
  • Pictures have shown the lockdown litter blighting the nation’s beauty spots  
  • One fifth of people have admitted dropping litter during the lockdown

 A massive nationwide campaign to clean up Britain backed by the Daily Mail is relaunched today after being postponed by the coronavirus crisis.

Shocking pictures have shown the lockdown litter blighting the nation’s beauty spots in recent weeks.

From the countryside to the coast, thoughtless people have left piles of waste and plastic while meeting up with friends and family as restrictions have been eased.

The Great British Spring Clean, run by Keep Britain Tidy and supported by the Mail, had to be postponed due to the crisis. But it will still go ahead in the autumn, the charity announces today.

Renamed the Great British September Clean, the campaign will once again encourage people of all ages and occupations to hit the UK’s streets, parks and beaches in the fight against litter.

Pictured: Rubbish was left on June 26 by visitors to Brighton and Hove seaside. Council workers had to work all morning on cleaning up the beac

Sisters are picking it for themselves 

When the crowds descended on Bournemouth beach last week no one was more horrified than local sisters Bethany and Imogen Ray.

Their family rents a beach hut at Canford Cliffs, which offers views of Sandbanks to one side, and Bournemouth beach to the other, and they regularly go out litter-picking along the sand.

When the crowds descended on Bournemouth beach last week no one was more horrified than local sisters Bethany (right) and Imogen Ray (left)

‘We noticed much less litter at the start of lockdown,’ says Bethany, eight (above left), ‘and after a few weeks we started picking up masks and gloves, but we’ve never seen the beach like this. I don’t understand why people drop litter, don’t their mummies teach them not to?’

‘Yes, the beach is the worst place to leave litter because it blows straight into the sea!’ adds Imogen, six (above right).

‘When we saw the rubbish left by all those people it seemed like the world had gone completely mad,’ says their mother Natasha, 43, who runs the online eco-friendly shop, ‘There was so much more food rubbish around partly because the cafes aren’t open so people brought their own picnics and just abandoned the packaging.’

Richard McIlwain, deputy chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said he had been horrified by the images of rubbish strewn over parks and beaches in the past few weeks: ‘I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t hate litter and wants something done about it and if, like me, you’ve been disgusted at the scenes of litter covering our parks and beaches then now is your chance to do something about it.

‘The beauty of the Great British September Clean is that it’s a chance to make a real and practical difference, to get outdoors and to get active in fighting back against the sea of plastic and rubbish that surrounds us.’

He paid tribute to the extraordinary effort of the 500,000 people who cleaned up Britain last year as part of the drive, and urged people to get involved over the summer.

The original campaign, which was set to run throughout March and April, attracted hundreds of thousands of pledges to get involved from individuals, litter picking groups and large organisations.

It received the backing of the Girl Guides, the National Trust and prominent political and celebrity figures. The Wombles even came out of hibernation to help encourage the nation to get involved.

The annual event had to be postponed as it became clear the Covid-19 crisis was escalating. But now, with Britain gradually easing out of lockdown, it can go ahead as planned, with a few changes to allow for new social distancing rules.

It will now run from September 11 to 27, and we hope all our readers will get involved in the fight against waste.

One fifth of people have admitted dropping litter during the lockdown, a survey found yesterday. And almost half (47 per cent) of 18 to 25-year-olds said they had dumped rubbish in streets, in parks and rural areas, in the McDonald’s poll.

 Underground, overground, let’s make Britain litter free  

They live in burrows and strive to protect the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in creative ways.

So who better to come out in support of the Great British September Clean than The Wombles — who have been out picking up litter on Wimbledon Common this week.

Orinoco, pictured here alongside six-year-old twins Oscar and Simon Faulkes, said he is ‘delighted’ to hear our campaign is still going ahead in September.

The Wombles, who found fame on TV in the Seventies, came out of retirement earlier this year to back the Great British Spring Clean which was due to run throughout March and April.

Pictured: Orinoco the Womble helps launch the great September spring clean campaign, with young twin helpers Simon (left) and Oscar Foulkes (right)

They were even pictured with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the official launch at the House of Commons. The event had to be postponed due to the coronavirus crisis — but it is now back on and the furry creatures want everyone to get involved.

‘We are delighted to be supporting the September Clean,’ Orinoco said. ‘We have been incredibly busy in recent weeks tidying-up after the humans, but there is only so much we Wombles can do. This is why we would like to encourage everyone, young and old, to join in and help tidy up. If we all behave like Wombles, we can make our world even more beautiful.’

It is hoped the Wombles of Wimbledon Common will help inspire a new generation to clean up the things that ‘everyday folks leave behind’. Earlier this year the characters were given a CGI makeover as part of a relaunch that aimed to inspire young environmental enthusiasts.

Pictured: Brean Beach, Burnham-on-Sea. Leaving behind tons of litter from plastic bags and bottles to picnic leftovers and abandoned tents (and now let’s add used face masks and gloves to the list) isn’t just indolent and wretched — it’s dangerous and amoral

Earlier this year, the Mail-backed campaign to clean up litter hit half a million volunteers just six weeks after its launch, eclipsing last year’s total volunteer tally of 563,163. The incredible number of people signing up was partly thanks to the likes of Lloyds, HSBC, Jaguar Land Rover and McDonald’s, who all pledged thousands of their staff would take part.

Girlguiding UK also promised an incredible 100,000 members would help tackle the blight of litter across Britain, and the National Trust sent out reminders to its more than five million members.

More than 100,000 schoolchildren, from nursery pupils up to sixth formers, signed up, many of whom came from the 20,000 eco-schools now registered in the UK.

National Rail also pledged 41,000 employees and £2 million for clearing and prevention.

The 2019 clean-up effort was the biggest ever mass-participation environmental campaign. Volunteers tidied parks, beaches, streets and common land of the equivalent of 239,344 wheelie bins full of rubbish — nearly 20 per cent of which was plastic bottles.

Now, the challenge is to still do our bit while also sticking to Government guidelines on preventing the spread of coronavirus.

There will be several differences to how the litter picks take place this year.

Groups of no more than six people should go litter picking at any one time, and must maintain social distancing as far as possible. Everyone involved will still be encouraged to separate plastics to be recycled, and to wear gardening-style gloves when they go out picking.

For more information and to sign up, please visit 

How you and your family can help out

What is the Great British September Clean?

The Great British September Clean is, in fact, the postponed Great British Spring Clean, which had to be mothballed in March when the country went into lockdown.

How can I get involved?

Anyone who wants to take part can do so by registering via the Keep Britain Tidy website at

When is it taking place?

The campaign will run from September 11 to 27 but you can pledge to start now if you want.

What can I do?

You can pledge to litter-pick either by yourself or with those you live with. Whether you do five minutes or five hours, every individual can make a difference.

You can also organise a small clean-up for you and up to five other people and register it on the website. You will be able to access resources, including a detailed ‘how to’ guide that will explain how to do a clean-up safely and what to do with the rubbish you collect.

Is it safe to do a litter-pick currently?

Yes, but you must be careful. If you are going to pick up litter, you must be wearing gloves — not PPE-type gloves but more substantial, gardening-type gloves — and use a litter-picker. Do not touch the litter you collect and make a special effort not to touch your face while litter-picking.

If you are litter-picking alone and only have a small amount of rubbish, just pop that in your own household bin. You could separate out plastic bottles and aluminium cans into your recycling bin but, again, use your litter-picker.

If you find you have too much rubbish, you will be able to find details of contacts at your local council — if they are involved with the campaign — on the Keep Britain Tidy website. They will tell you where to leave the rubbish you’ve picked up for collection.

How should I do a litter-pick with people I don’t live with?

You should not litter-pick with more than five other people, in line with the latest Government guidelines at time of going to press, and you must observe social distancing — a good guide is to stay a litter-picker length a way from each other.

All the health and safety information you need is available on the Keep Britain Tidy website at when you register. Remember, everyone taking part must be wearing gardening-type gloves and must use a litter-picker and wash their hands — and the equipment — thoroughly afterwards.

Contact your local council before to tell them what you’re doing and where, and to arrange for the rubbish you pick up to be collected. You will find details for councils who are supporting the campaign on the website.

How can I get equipment?

All you need to start litter-picking is some gardening-type gloves, a litter-picker and a rubbish bag. A lot of local authorities are supporting the Great British September Clean and their details are on the website when you register. They may be able to lend you equipment. If you just want to do something yourself, you can also get affordable litter-pickers from various online retailers.

Are there any clean-up events I can go to?

No, with the restrictions currently in place, there will not be any public events that individuals can join, so if you want to ‘do your bit’ please pledge via the website then you can be part of the pick and stay safe as well. Or you could simply organise something with your friends and neighbours and register on the website.

Will there still be a Great Big School Clean?

No, but schools who want to and are able to take part in the Great British September Clean will be able to do so. They can register via the Keep Britain Tidy website, 

The shocking images of our litter-lout landscape that prove we HAVE to fight back

By Julia Bradbury  

Pictured: Julia Bradbury picking up plastic waste in Avondale Park in west London on May 12

As if we don’t have enough to be depressed about right now (and I am speaking as an optimist), I think I’m going to have to get myself an eye mask to go with my Covid-19 mask.

I nearly cried when I saw the photos of Bournemouth beach last week, and nothing can shield us from the numbers: 500,000 people caused a ‘major incident’ in Dorset, leaving behind 33 tons of litter to be cleared away. The lowest point of all the reports was to read about human waste left in a burger box.

I am enraged and miserable in equal measure that there are so many lazy, selfish, thoughtless people out there. Disease loves dirty corners to hide in, and rubbish is the perfect harbour. In case these lazy louts didn’t know it (and one must assume by their behaviour that they don’t), there’s a worldwide pandemic on and a deadly virus that is searching for places to linger and spread.

Leaving behind tons of litter from plastic bags and bottles to picnic leftovers and abandoned tents (and now let’s add used face masks and gloves to the list) isn’t just indolent and wretched — it’s dangerous and amoral.

Just who do these people think is going to pick up their detritus? And Bournemouth, sadly, wasn’t just a blot on the beach. Since lockdown has been eased, I have noticed our beautiful green spaces and precious parks have suffered more.

My local parks in London are strewn with masks and beer bottles. This isn’t just littering, it is polluting. Leaving human faeces in a box is potentially life-threatening during a pandemic (as is dumping used face masks and gloves).

Pictured:  Norris Green Park in the Peak District. I am enraged and miserable in equal measure that there are so many lazy, selfish, thoughtless people out there

My children, who are five and eight, go around picking up litter, pointing out cigarette butts, and they are sure to tell me when something is plastic. But I can’t let them pick up litter right now because it is positively dangerous. And before you all cry that all the public toilets are closed — yes, we all know that. But if someone finds themselves needing to go, they should take it home with them. Don’t leave someone else to deal with your mess. It’s disgusting.

My various television series have taken me all over the UK and the world and I have sadly seen a huge increase in litter and plastic pollution.

Local authorities spend £800 million every year cleaning up our streets; wildlife and thousands of pets die and are injured getting tangled up in it, and this year park managers across the country are reporting that the situation is the worst they have ever seen.

Salford council staff collected 200 tons more rubbish from the city’s parks and streets in eight weeks during lockdown compared with last year.

My favourite anti-litter sign is by the City of York council, which asks: ‘Why are you tossing your litter around here? I’m lazy/I don’t care about this community/I think other people should pay to clean up after me. Don’t be a tosser. You brought your rubbish here, please take it home with you.’

Pictured:  The morning after the hottest day in England so far this year (June 26) and rubbish is left strewn on the Brocas by the River Thames

Sadly, we are a nation obsessed with takeaways, and that equates to a throw-away mentality. We spend billions of pounds a year on convenience food and we don’t want the inconvenience of dealing with the waste that it produces.

We need to create a culture where cleanliness is valued, the deposit return scheme on plastic bottles needs to be pushed through urgently, recycling facilities need to be updated and businesses must be held accountable for waste they create. We must start taking rubbish seriously.

If you’re as frustrated as I am, there is a way you can make a real difference. It’s simple and effective. Sign up to participate in Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean, which, as a result of Covid-19, is now running throughout September.

Let’s get outdoors and show those people trashing our parks and beaches that the majority are prepared to stand up for our environment and push back against selfish behaviour.

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