Help us keep Scotland beautiful – take part in Spring Clean 2020

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Logo: Keep Scotland Beautiful

Heather McLaughlin, Campaigns Officer with Keep Scotland Beautiful

The damaging presence of litter, dog fouling and graffiti in our communities is hard to ignore. And it is a problem which our data shows is getting worse in many areas across Scotland.

Of all the environmental challenges we are faced with, removing litter from the equation should be the easiest. We all have it in us to put the rubbish we are finished with in a bin, to take it home and recycle it, or not to use the packaging in the first place. We all have the ability to pick up a piece of discarded waste and dispose of it properly.

Keep Scotland Beautiful
Keep Scotland Beautiful

Channelling the negative experience of being in a littered place into a positive can be difficult. However, our Clean Up Scotland campaign has been working with individuals and partners in communities across Scotland for over ten years to increase pride and make Scotland cleaner for us to enjoy, now and into the future.

Our annual Spring Clean campaign, launching in April, in partnership with the Great British Spring Clean, is creating a focus to spread the message that a litter free environment is beneficial for our well-being, community spirit and environmental sustainability. During April and May charities, businesses, communities, schools and other organisations carry out litter picks in their neighbourhoods and improve the places they care for. Most of these events are open to the public for individuals to get involved with.

In 2019, over 45,000 people across Scotland took action to demonstrate how much they care about our country. Litter picks not only improve the appearance of local areas and help protect our environment and wildlife, they are also a great way to meet like-minded people, improve mental and physical health, spend time outdoors and promote community pride. This spring, we’re calling for people to volunteer their time and to organise or get involved in a clean up.

Keep Scotland Beautiful
Keep Scotland Beautiful

It’s easy to get started! You can organise a litter pick in your community or favourite place as an individual or a community. Here are five litter pick tips to follow:

1. Identify a grot spot that needs ‘cleaning up’. Maybe you have a green space in mind which needs a bit of a spring clean. You may find it helpful to sketch a map of the site, marking identifiable landmarks and useful facilities, as well as proposed litter-picking routes including meeting points, potential hazards and nearest toilets.

2. Get permission to litter pick from the landowner. If you are unsure, begin with the council and they might be able to provide the necessary information. If you know that the area has large or heavy items of litter or flytipping, you should try to avoid these and instead report them to your local authority so they can be removed.

3. Borrow litter-picking equipment. Your council will usually have a stock for community events. When you contact your local authority, ask what recycling options are available in the area and what procedures they would like you to follow. If you’re stuck, we can loan equipment that can be collected from our offices in Stirling.

Volunteers work alongside Scottish Canals to litter pick along the Union Canal (Keep Scotland Beautiful)
Volunteers work alongside Scottish Canals to litter pick along the Union Canal (Keep Scotland Beautiful)

4. Get people involved! Spreading the message to a wider audience can help you engage with the community and hopefully change more people’s littering behaviour. Make sure you promote the event to your networks to encourage people to take part. This can be done through a newspaper ad, your own newsletters, posters in community centres/local shops or through a Facebook event. If you’d rather not make the Clean Up event public and keep it within your organisation or community group, that’s okay too.

5. Make your litter pick count. Tell us about your event and post it on the Clean Up Scotland map; this lets us know what events are happening across the country. We then use the data to showcase the breadth of community action across Scotland and demonstrate to politicians, to communities not yet involved, and to the small persistent number of people that still litter, that people do care about the quality of their local spaces and want more done to tackle our littering epidemic.

Scotland volunteers help keep the National Cycle Network clean with a litter pick as part of Spring Clean 2019 (Keep Scotland Beautiful)
Scotland volunteers help keep the National Cycle Network clean with a litter pick as part of Spring Clean 2019 (Keep Scotland Beautiful)

Our volunteers come from all areas and are of all ages. Many volunteer-led community groups begin organising clean ups before participating in our It’s Your Neighbourhood and Beautiful Scotland initiatives, managed in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society. There’s something for everyone; a clean up is just the start of greater things!

Why not make 2020 the year you help make a difference? Get in touch or visit to find out more and we’ll help you to play an important part in keeping Scotland beautiful.

First published in CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with The Conservation Volunteers on 10 Febraury 2020. Read the full issue here

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