United Kingdom

Women's Institute and the RSPCA back litter-picking drive

Lynne Stubbings, chair of the National Foundation of Women's Institutes, is pictured getting involved in the Great British Spring Clean campaign. Helping the cause will be the WI's 220,000 members and 6,300 branches

The Great British Spring Clean received a tremendous boost yesterday as the number signed up to join in hit 25,000 – and the drive received the full backing of the Women's Institute and the RSPCA.

Last year, 563,000 public-spirited volunteers took part – helping to cart away thousands of tons of junk that had been turning our country into a depressing rubbish tip, instead of a green and pleasant land.

This year, we hope to recruit even more – and have already scheduled 592 clean-up events in the coming 12 months.

Helping the cause this year will be the WI's 220,000 members and 6,300 branches, all of whom are being encouraged to join in the mass litter-picking event, organised by Keep Britain Tidy and backed by the Daily Mail.

While the WI is famous for 'Jam and Jerusalem', it has been a powerful force in the environmental movement. 

The issue of littering was first raised during one of their AGMs in the 1920s.

Lynne Stubbings, chair of the National Foundation of Women's Institutes, said she was going to be urging all the WI's members to roll up their sleeves and get litter-picking this spring.

'Protection of the countryside has always been important to the WI and a resolution in 1954 to 'Preserve the countryside against desecration by litter' brought about one of the WI's most significant initiatives, leading to the formation of the Keep Britain Tidy group in 1955,' she said.

Scooter's a scooper

Many are happy to clean up with just a grabber and a bin bag – but Steven Heard built a mobile litter-picking unit.

The 50-year-old, from Minehead in Somerset, was born deaf and suffers from diabetes and Meniere's disease which makes getting around tough.

So he attaches the £600 trailer, with coloured bins for different rubbish, to his mobility scooter. 

He said: 'Everyone needs to take responsibility.'

Steven Heard, from Minehead in Somerset, built a mobile litter-picking unit

'The Great British Spring Clean inspires hundreds of WI members to take practical action out in their communities.

'This year, WI members will again be bringing others together for beach cleans, litter picks and park clean-ups.

'Public concern about our environment is at a high, and we are all looking for ways that we can help protect our world for the future.

'At the WI we have always believed that there is tremendous power in individuals taking action in their own lives, and in coming together as a community to make change at a local level. The Great British Spring Clean is a chance for us to do just that.'

As well as being an eyesore, discarded plastic metal and glass packaging can pose a deadly threat to wildlife – which makes the RSPCA's support so important.

The charity warned that plastic packaging thoughtlessly dropped can spell a death sentence.

Litter pickers are pictured above at Regent's Canal in North London for our campaign last year. As well as being an eyesore, discarded plastic metal and glass packaging can pose a deadly threat to wildlife – which makes the RSPCA's support so important

Every year, the charity's emergency line receives more than 7,000 calls about litter-related incidents, with animals trapped or hurt.

In November last year, a muntjac deer in Newark, Nottinghamshire, was killed by a vehicle when it strayed into the road – after its head became stuck in a plastic bag. 

A discarded plastic pot or jar can result in cats being trapped.

Elastic bands also pose a big risk to small creatures as they can wrap around their bodies, or the beaks of birds, and cause choking.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said that the charity's 25,000 members were happy to get involved.

He said: 'Litter is wreaking a terrible legacy on our wild animals.

'The RSPCA deals with increasing numbers of mammals, birds and reptiles that have become entangled or affected in some way. It's up to every one of us to do our bit in the war against litter.

'The RSPCA is proud to be once again supporting Keep Britain Tidy and the Great British Spring Clean. We are encouraging our supporters, staff, centres and branches to join in to help make a real difference to animals endangered by litter.'

This year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson kickstarted the campaign in Parliament – posing along with a Womble.

Additional reporting Alice Cachia and Nadine Batchelor-Hunt

Pick up a prize

  • Think your area could do with a proper spring clean — be it removing graffiti, planting flowers or power-washing the pavements?
  • Then share a picture of your pick-up and you could win your community a makeover worth £10,000! Plus, one runner-up will win a community makeover worth £5,000.
  • We're also offering prizes to three children (under the age of 14) who are judged to have made the most significant contribution to litter collecting over the course of at least a year. 
  • They will win £1,000 PLUS another £1,000 to fund their own eco project. Send us details of a Junior Litter Champion you know.n Both competitions will be judged by a panel comprising representatives from the Daily Mail and Keep Britain Tidy and TV presenter and keen rambler Julia Bradbury. 
  • To enter, explain in no more than 100 words why you or your nominee should win the prize, and what your eco project would be for the children's competition, and include pictures. Please send your entry before Monday, April 13, to [email protected] or write to Great British Spring Clean Competitions, Daily Mail Marketing, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT.

Terms and conditions apply, see page 64. 

Visit dailymail.co.uk/springcleancomp for information. By entering, you agree to publicity in Mail publications.

How you can get involved

Let's give Britain a jolly good spruce-up and rid our communities of plastic waste and litter for this year's Great British Spring Clean.

As the Prime Minister pledges his support, it's time for you too to sign up to the nationwide rubbish pick organised by charity Keep Britain Tidy in partnership with the Daily Mail.

Wherever you live, you can make a huge difference by sparing a few hours to clear up your area from March 20 to April 13.

Schools can also take part – last year 170,000 pupils got involved and we'd like to see even more join in.

It's so simple to sign up – just log on to www.gbspringclean.org and do it today. Why? Because litter – and particularly plastic rubbish – is a terrible blight.

Taxpayers spend £800million every year to clear up after litter louts and fly-tippers. 

And, despite our best intentions, the system is struggling to cope. But there is something positive you can do – and it's fun too.

This year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson kickstarted the campaign in Parliament – posing along with a Womble

HOW DO I JOIN?

Go to www.keepbritaintidy.org and choose one of three options:

WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE?

We are asking volunteers to separate litter they find into three bags: One for plastic bottles, one for aluminium cans and one for all other types of rubbish and waste.

WHO CAN JOIN IN?

Everyone and anyone! We're aiming to inspire thousands of volunteers – in partnership with community organisations, businesses and councils – to collect and safely dispose of litter from our streets, parks and beaches, recycling as much as possible.

WHAT DOES A PLEDGE INVOLVE?

It's just a way of recording your interest, support and involvement. You just need to be able to pick up litter – even one piece per day during the campaign is one piece less littering our environment. Many people who join our campaign are completely new to litter-picking so this is a great way to start.

HOW DO I REGISTER A PRIVATE CLEAN-UP?

If you're keen to organise a private group of friends, family or work colleagues, just select the PRIVATE GROUP option when you register. This means you will have access to a comprehensive guide with information on how to organise your event and great advice on running a pick-up. You can organise as many as you want between March 20 and April 13.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I REGISTER?

When you sign up to the Great British Spring Clean you can keep track of everything on your own personalised online 'dashboard'. 

This is your space to add litter-picks, get access to useful guides and find out what to do with your rubbish. This is also where you can go after your clean-up to record your results.

WHAT MUST I DO IF I HOST A LITTER-PICK?

We've written seven useful guides to different aspects of the process. These include registering your event, finding a great location, promoting it (with social media templates you can use), information about equipment, collection and recycling.

There are also details of health and safety, and public liability insurance. So please do read through the guides which tell you everything you need to know.

We are urging hosts to return to the website after each event to let us know how much litter was collected. 

We're hoping to keep count of how many people took part, how long they spent picking, how many bags were collected, and what type of litter was gathered (ie plastic bottles, cans and general waste).

HOW DO I JOIN AN EXISTING CLEAN-UP?

Go to www.keepbritaintidy.org and search our interactive map to find a public event in your area. 

Once you register to 'join the clean-up' an email will be sent to the event organiser with your details. They will then liaise with you directly.

WHAT ABOUT EQUIPMENT?

If you need kit – litter-pickers, high-vis vests, bags, gloves – your local authority may be able to help. Or you will find it at Wilko stores and www.wilko.com from February 4. Make sure you're dressed appropriately with sturdy footwear, gloves and, ideally, a high-vis vest.

Never pick up needles – let the organiser know and they will contact the council to remove them. If you find broken glass, put it in a bucket or leave it where it is.

HOW DO I SPREAD THE WORD?

Aim to recruit friends, family or colleagues to join you – this is a great way to spend time together and enjoy some fresh air. 

As part of your litter-pick you can also choose to fundraise to support the wider work of Keep Britain Tidy.