Community Litter Picking and the Big ‘C’ word

No, it's not James May’s catchphrase. Of course, I mean Coronavirus. It feels like we have talked about nothing else this year!

We have been living with Covid-19 for well over six months and I feel that the cracks are really starting to show. Even the simple face mask is now the ‘norm’ and part of every-day life. This time last year, I would have thought it strange to see face masks being worn in an airport. Now, I find it strange to see someone in a supermarket without one! Even though the use of face masks to control the spread has been debateable, I still find myself giving a wide berth to people not sporting one.

We continue to hear the terms ‘Social distancing’ and ‘Bubble’, but are the general public really taking this seriously? And what is the role of public organisations in encouraging them to take it seriously? Indeed, some might have found it surprising to hear that Keep Britain Tidy rescheduled their ‘Great British Spring Clean’ from March to September 11-27. We might ask if the time is right for these types of activities.

Granted, waste collection and Street Cleansing has been in the spotlight during the pandemic and exposed our operatives as key workers, and in many cases, unsung heroes! Yet, it might be that the risk is still too high to be promoting volunteer litter picking, especially when restrictions have recently been tightened around social gatherings.

That said, Keep Britain Tidy have provided some fairly comprehensive guidance on their website for community litter picks and updated their guidance to include a maximum of six volunteers. So if, like me, you have been contacted by volunteer groups to borrow equipment as part of a volunteer litter picking event, you can point the groups in the direction of Keep Britain Tidy and their website for more comprehensive guidance.

Despite the positive campaign message, the good intentions and environmental benefits this work brings, some might well question the wisdom of persevering with the event this year, especially as we are accelerating towards what appears to be an inevitable second peak! Of course, if I lived in Scotland or Ireland then I probably wouldn’t be writing this!