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Rory Stewart MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary in Defra and Marcus Jones MP, Minister for Local Government, were amongst speakers who lauded the success of the Clean for The Queen Campaign on Tuesday, at a celebration on the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons. They joined campaign founder Melissa Murdoch from the Garfield Weston Foundation and Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, in commending the 250,000-plus volunteers who’d helped clean up these beautiful islands in readiness for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday today.
I was lucky to be a guest of sponsor The British Cleaning Council and thus amongst the 200 people to attend the celebration – bright sunshine sparkling on the Thames (which is no doubt that much cleaner thanks to the campaign) seemed to provide an extra ‘thank you’ for the campaign’s instigators, supporters and volunteers. Although, (because of a weekend job) I wasn’t able to take part in the 3-day litter-pick in March, I am one of those who naturally goes around picking up litter dropped by others. It’s clear from the random chats I had with others on that terrace, that I’m not as weird as my friends and family think!
We learned that community volunteers organised over 7,500 litter-picks, stretching from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland to Guernsey in the Channel Islands, using equipment supplied by 400 local authorities. Volunteers aging from 18-months to 80 collected more than 300,000 bags worth of rubbish – enough to fill 30,000 wheelie bins!
Keep Britain Tidy’s Allison Ogden-Newton, said: “When The Queen first came to the throne, litter was not the problem it has become today, with more fast food packaging, plastic bottles, takeaway meals and cigarette butts… Seeing this on our streets not only changes our sense of pride and how we feel about a place or area, but it also affects our wildlife and countryside.”
And while we’re all applauding those who gathered the 1,200 tonnes of rubbish, let’s think about what’s happening here… We’re dropping litter – too much of it.
Why? And what can we do to change things?
Do please let me have your views. Perhaps if we all work hard enough, next year’s volunteers will only be able to collect half that amount of litter – or even less.
Now wouldn’t that be nice?
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21st April 2016