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Keep Britain Tidy has one of the most prominent public-facing profiles of the British Cleaning Council’s 22-strong membership – a fact proven by the take up by some 160,000 volunteers of its challenge to ensure the success of the ‘Great British Spring Clean 2021, which has left 1.15 million miles of British outdoor spaces cleaner and greener. The Association says it’s seen a huge interest in taking part in this annual event, from people who are new to litter picking – but it may not just be the desire to improve the environment that’s spurring everyone on. Around 80% of volunteers have said taking part improved their mood and 43% said it made them feel less isolated. No doubt these benefits helped them persuade others to join in. Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, says: “Clearing away the litter that blights our streets, parks and beaches has a massive benefit for our environment but it’s good for us too - improving our health and wellbeing, removing thousands of tonnes of litter pollution and creating a cleaner country for everyone to enjoy”.
The Association points to an article by campaign partner The Daily Mail, featuring Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England, who litter-picked in Oxfordshire. Professor Newton said: “Being outside in green spaces - particularly if there’s a reason to be there - has surprisingly strong health effects, especially when doing something for the greater good.” He said the litter-picking experience was “very rewarding,” adding: “I was astonished at how much litter I found at the roadside so close to where I live. The verges looked fairly clear when driving past but the more I looked the more I found.”
As a child I don’t recall ever seeing litter; we were taught not to drop rubbish almost as soon as we could walk and residents took pride in their local environment. Later, travelling overseas, I felt that the same standards were in play, but in more recent years I’ve noticed that the litter blight isn’t confined to the UK and when I’ve brought up the subject previously, you’ve told me litter’s a growing problem almost everywhere. Are there campaigns similar to our annual ‘Spring Clean’ in your neck of the woods and – perhaps more importantly – do you think we should be relying on volunteers to collect litter that shouldn’t actually exist? Prevention or cure… What are your thoughts?
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17th June 2021