Eco Comment – Litter and the Great British Spring Clean

29 March 2024

You might have seen the big advertising hoardings last month which state that 3 million animals are killed annually by litter (Keep Britain Tidy research 2018). Many of these animals died on the roadside, trapped in litter such as bottles and cans. This current campaign by the National Highways, RSPCA and Keep Britain Tidy urges road users to ‘Lend a Paw – bin your litter’ (Informational Video on YouTube National Highways).

Many people are apparently unaware of the link between littering and the death of wildlife. A key issue is that they don’t realise that dropping biodegradable food is still counted as litter. How many of us have thought that it’s ok to drop an apple core out of the car window? Sadly fruit peel and apple cores encourage wildlife to venture onto roads where they subsequently meet their doom.

Nationals Highways has recently run a trial with a local authority using AI enabled cameras to carry out enforcement to rid roadsides and motorway service areas of rubbish. They have also trialled message signs to reduce motorway littering and used geofencing to send texts to motorists entering laybys where littering is an issue to prompt them to take their litter home. They are taking part in the Great British Spring Clean for the ninth year running.

This annual event is the nation’s biggest mass-action environmental campaign and we can all join in. All that is needed is for individuals, groups or schools to pledge the number of bags of litter that they will pick up. Last year the amazing #LitterHeroes pledged to pick more than 400,000 bags of litter. I do have to say that I am full of admiration for the man who goes running along Denby Dale Road picking litter as he runs using a long handled litter picker. He invariably has quite a full bag when I see him near the railway bridge.

Keep Britain Tidy is celebrating its 70th year of protecting the environment this year and have set a ‘fun #PlatinumPledge challenge to do things like pledging to pick 70 items or pledge to spend 70 minutes in nature litter picking or, for the more ambitious pledge, to pick 70 bags!’

The key message this year is that the environment belongs to everyone and they are proud that hundreds of thousands of litter heroes from many different communities are uniting to help tackle litter – some of which has been in the environment since they were founded 70 years ago. They state that ‘many volunteers regularly find ‘retro rubbish’ that was dropped many years ago but is still causing harm to our environment today, releasing greenhouse gases as it slowly breaks down in our soil and water, which contributes to the climate crisis’ (

Litter picking is a simple action that anyone can do. It makes an immediate and visible difference to the environment where we live, work and play. 95% of the people surveyed after last year’s campaign agreed that they felt they had made a difference to their local area, and 91% said they felt part of a national movement that is taking action to tackle litter.

If you would like to take part in a litter pick, it is suggested that you have a litter picker, protective gloves and a bag as basic equipment. Hand sanitiser is recommended and/or washing your hands regularly. Safety is paramount, so think carefully about what you pick up and where you are going to take it to dispose of it. Children should be supervised at all times and if you are attending an official clean up, a risk assessment should have been undertaken. Please read the safety advice on the Keep Britain Tidy website for full safety advice.

Good luck in your ventures and if you can’t actually take part, you can advertise the fact that litter is harmful to our environment and really should be taken home.

Susan Morgan
Eco Group

Want to know more about the Eco Group?

Wakefield Cathedral’s Eco Group brings together members of the congregation, volunteers and staff to work towards making the cathedral a greener place to work and worship.

The Eco Group achieves its goals through a variety of activities, including partnerships with local community groups.

We invite anyone and everyone to reach out if they are interested in joining the eco group, or simply finding out more about what we do.

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