The National Trust has said we need a ‘new relationship with nature’ as only one in three children picks up litter if they see it.
Research from the charity shows that those who regularly notice and connect with nature are more likely to act to help tackle threats to it.
But a survey found more than 70 per cent of youngsters say they never look up to the clouds or notice butterflies and bees.
Research shows those who regularly notice and connect with nature are more likely to act to help tackle threats to it (pictured: Plastics and other detritus line the shore of the Thames Estuary on October 28, 2019)
'We’ll spend as much time cleaning up as playing football'
Danny and Jojo Eisawy, 11 and nine, from Tonbridge, Kent, are doing all they can to help the environment
By Eleanor Sharples
Two brothers are dedicating as much time to litter-picking as they are to playing football.
Danny and Jojo Eisawy, 11 and nine, from Tonbridge, Kent, are doing all they can to help the environment, spending more than five hours a week tidying their local area.
After they were each bought a litter picker last year, the Tottenham Hotspur fans began their quest to pick up as much waste as possible.
Their mother, Charlotte Raveney, 42, said: ‘They set this challenge to match their litter-picking hours with their football hours. One week they spent five hours 45 minutes playing football and five hours 55 minutes litter-picking.’
Danny said: ‘I feel very proud of what we’ve done. I want to create a ripple, something that will inspire others. I want to create awareness.’
Jojo added: ‘I really want to help the environment. At school I’m an eco-warrior. I litter-pick around our school.’
Levels of concern about nature decline are growing – and increased concern is highest among younger age groups with 55 per cent of children and 56 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 agreeing they are more concerned than a year ago.
But for many people the fears have not translated into regular individual action. For example, only 34 per cent of children and 32 per cent of adults said they voluntarily pick up someone else’s litter.
Bucking the trend, however, are the 346,927 people who have pledged to join the Great British Spring Clean, the national campaign to pick up litter between March 20 and April 13 by Keep Britain Tidy, and backed by the Daily Mail. Overall, there are 7,780 clean-up events registered.
This includes pledges from some 100,000 girl guides and around 100,000 schoolchildren.
The survey found that activities such as listening to birdsong, smelling wild flowers and watching butterflies and bees are strongly linked with taking action.
But the research, undertaken with the University of Derby, revealed when questioning adults that, in the past year 79 per cent infrequently or never smelled wild flowers, 62 per cent infrequently or never listened to birdsong and 57 per cent rarely or never watched the sunrise.
It comes as another major review suggests those caught littering should be hit with £500 fines as part of a crackdown. Fixed penalty notices for littering attract a fine of between £50 and £80 in England and up to £150 in Wales.
The report from think-tank Bright Blue also recommends increasing the price of ‘bags for life’ to 70p and banning black plastic ready meal trays. It found that towns and cities elsewhere in the world are kept clean with the help of tougher penalties.
People who throw litter in Calgary, Canada can be fined between £290 and £590. In Singapore, those caught face a £1,140 for a first offence, with fines between £2,270 and £5,680 fines for subsequent offences.