United Kingdom

Konnie Huq says people have 'lost their manners' over picking up litter during lockdown

Former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq is urging the public to get involved in the Great British September Clean.

Miss Huq, 44, who has written books for children, said the litter epidemic during the coronavirus crisis shows the ‘worst of human beings’.

‘It seems that we have lost our manners during lockdown,’ she said. 

Konnie Huq, 44, is urging the public to get involved in the Great British September Clean campaign backed by the Daily Mail

The former Blue Peter presenter has urged the public to 'make our environment a better place' in September

‘If we are trying to make our environment a better place, that needs to include picking up your rubbish. 

'The Mail’s September litter-picking campaign could be a good family activity.’

The Apprentice star Lord Sugar, journalist John Sergeant and gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh yesterday added their backing to the campaign, organised by Keep Britain Tidy and backed by the Daily Mail.

Lord Sugar said: ‘If, like me, you’ve noticed the blight of lockdown litter in recent months, join me in backing the Daily Mail campaign to help clean up our towns, coasts and countryside. 

Journalist John Sergeant (left) and The Apprentice star Lord Sugar (right) have also added their backing to the campaign organised by Keep Britain Tidy

Gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh says 'I just can’t see why anybody would want to chuck their rubbish into the street or the countryside'

‘It’s not difficult to clean up after ourselves, but unfortunately some people seem to think it is – ruining our beauty spots for the rest of us. 

'I urge everyone to get involved if you want to make a difference.’

Mr Titchmarsh, who regularly speaks on environmental issues, said: ‘I just can’t see why anybody would want to chuck their rubbish into the street or the countryside. 

'Why would any of us want to look at the mess left behind?’ 

Beaches piled with rubbish show people at their worst 


It seems that we have lost our manners during lockdown.

People are forgetting to pick up their rubbish, because there’s a definite transition from litter- free parks to wrappers and bits of paper floating around on the grass.

Put it in the bins provided or – if the bins are overflowing – take it home.

Since lockdown was lifted there’s definitely been a shift towards socially-distanced drinking in parks, which obviously contributes to the problem.

As different shifts in restrictions happen, there is different litter to match it. The recent pictures of the litter on Bournemouth beach were just awful – so horrible.

You always give people the benefit of the doubt and think that they are kind and caring and good citizens, and then something like that just shows the worst of human beings – selfish, uncaring for other people and the environment and the fact that someone else is going to have to pick up that litter for them.

I have seen reports of fly-tipping on the news and that’s shocking too.

Unable to get rid of their rubbish because the dumps are closed, people have felt that it’s a free for all.

Why make your rubbish someone else’s problem? It’s so selfish!

The Mail’s September litter-picking campaign could be a good family activity – you’d feel you were giving back and get good deed endorphins. Obviously, you’ll need gloves and masks and if you use litter-picking sticks it should be pretty safe.

The fact that we’ve had this lockdown has meant that the world is a bit less polluted and the carbon footprint has gone down.

If we are trying to make our environment a better place, that needs to include picking up your rubbish.

There are things about lockdown that are really positive, environment-wise, so why go and blow it all?

Former BBC chief political correspondent Mr Sergeant said: ‘The pandemic has given us a chance to work out what we really care about, and I hope it makes people more litter conscious. 

'We deserve a cleaner, better-looking Britain.’

The event, initially due to take place in March, will run from September 11 to 27.

It's a classic scene in the Lake District – the sun setting behind the distant fells, casting its reflection in the still waters. Only this time it has been blighted by the ugly heap of litter in the foreground (pictured)


Q&A by Xantha Leatham 

What is the Great British September Clean?

The Great British September Clean is, in fact, the postponed Great British Spring Clean, which had to be mothballed in March when the country went into lockdown.

How can I get involved?

Anyone who wants to take part can do so by registering via the Keep Britain Tidy website at keepbritaintidy.org

When is it taking place?

The campaign will run from September 11 to 27 but you can pledge to start now if you want.

What can I do?

You can pledge to litter-pick either by yourself or with those you live with. Whether you do five minutes or five hours, every individual can make a difference.

You can also organise a small clean-up for you and up to five other people and register it on the website. 

You will be able to access resources, including a detailed ‘how to’ guide that will explain how to do a clean-up safely and what to do with the rubbish you collect.

Is it safe to do a litter-pick currently?

Yes, but you must be careful. If you are going to pick up litter, you must be wearing gloves – not PPE-type gloves but more substantial, gardening-type gloves – and use a litter-picker. 

Do not touch the litter you collect and make a special effort not to touch your face while litter-picking. 

If you are litter-picking alone and have only a small amount of rubbish, just pop that in your own household bin. 

You could separate out plastic bottles and aluminium cans into your recycling bin but, again, use your litter-picker.

If you find you have too much rubbish, you will be able to find details of contacts at your local council – if they are involved with the campaign – on the Keep Britain Tidy website. They will tell you where to leave the rubbish you’ve picked up for collection.

How should I do a litter-pick with people I don’t live with?

You should not litter-pick with more than five other people, in line with the latest Government guidelines at time of going to press, and you must observe social distancing — a good guide is to stay a litter-picker length away from each other. 

All the health and safety information you need is available on the Keep Britain Tidy website at keepbritaintidy.org when you register. Everyone taking part must be wearing gardening-type gloves and must use a litter-picker and wash their hands – and the equipment – thoroughly afterwards. 

Contact your council beforehand to tell them what you’re doing and where, and to arrange for the rubbish you pick up to be collected. 

You will find details for councils who are supporting the campaign on the website. 

If you live in Wales or Scotland, please follow the appropriate guidance.

How can I get equipment?

All you need to start litter-picking is some gardening-type gloves, a litter-picker and a rubbish bag. A lot of local authorities are supporting the Great British September Clean and their details are on the website when you register. They may be able to lend you equipment. 

If you just want to do something yourself, you can also get affordable litter-pickers from various online retailers.

Are there any clean-up events I can go to?

No, with the restrictions currently in place, there will not be any public events that individuals can join, so if you want to ‘do your bit’ please pledge via the website, then you can be part of the pick and stay safe as well. 

Or you could simply organise something with your friends and neighbours and register on the website.

Will there still be a Great Big School Clean?

No, but schools who want to and are able to take part in the Great British September Clean will be able to do so. They can register via the Keep Britain Tidy website, keepbritaintidy.org

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