War on waste is off to a flying start: As the number of volunteers joining the campaign nears half a million, Theresa May leads praise for nationwide crusade of litter heroes

  • e-mail



Theresa May praised Britain’s ‘litter heroes’ yesterday as thousands of pupils got the Great British Spring Clean off to a flying start.

Nearly half a million volunteers are giving up their precious time to pick up rubbish as part of a month-long war on waste.

Children across the UK led the way at organised litter collections around their schools yesterday in an inspiring display of community spirit.

Pupils from Merchant Taylors’ Primary School, Liverpool, Merseyside, pick litter in the grounds. Sir David Attenborough and Chris Packham have also praised the campaign, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called it ‘an inspiring initiative’

Today, adults will join in the effort by picking up waste at shopping parades, woodlands, supermarket car parks, beaches and streets.

Mrs May and Environment Secretary Michael Gove led praise for the civic pride driving the Great British Spring Clean, organised by Keep Britain Tidy and backed by the Mail.

The Prime Minister, who took part in a litter-pick earlier this year, said: ‘It’s wonderful that around half a million people have joined the Great British Spring Clean, supported by the Daily Mail. 

Julia Bradbury joins the Daily Mail Keep Britain Tidy campaign by helping to clear up litter in Avondale Park in West London

It’s an inspirational campaign that is encouraging people right across the UK to become ‘litter heroes’ and improve the environment on their doorstep.

‘Small changes can make a big difference to our planet. By reducing the amount of plastic we use and recycling we can all make sure the UK’s beautiful countryside and seas are protected for years to come. 

‘In Government we’re making changes too – we’re looking carefully at plans to ban the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds, and we are consulting on increasing the charge of plastic bags to 10p and extending it to all businesses.

‘Initiatives like the Great British Spring Clean are a fantastic way of helping make our towns tidier, our oceans cleaner and in turn protecting our wildlife. A big thank you to all Daily Mail readers who are taking part. 

‘Together, we can become the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it.’

The Great British Spring Clean has already had 484,214 people pledge their support, including 165,960 school pupils, with thousands more still signing up every day.

Eva Berksha, seven, who took part in a litter pick organised at St Lukes Primary School in Canning Town, East London, said: ‘I feel very sad that people have thrown so much on the floor.

‘If there isn’t a bin you should put rubbish in your pocket until you find one.’ 

This week Mr Gove went to Marcus Garvey Park in Hammersmith, West London, to take part in a litter pick with the chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, Allison Ogden-Newton.

In Aberdeen, Scotland, Glenbervie Primary school pupils take part in the big litter clean up. Children across the UK led the way at organised litter collections around their schools yesterday in an inspiring display of community spirit

Despite the park appearing relatively litter free, lurking in undergrowth were discarded beer cans, vodka bottles, sandwich and sweet wrappers, plastic bottles and cigarette butts. In just 20 minutes, Mr Gove filled half a bin bag.

He said: ‘I commend the Daily Mail and Keep Britain Tidy for rallying communities up and down the country to make a difference for our precious environment. It’s great to see first-hand the impact the campaign is making, and I’d urge everyone who can to join me in taking part.’

Mrs Ogden Newton, who hailed the Great British Spring Clean as the UK’s largest ever volunteer-based campaign, added: ‘We found the kind or rubbish that the British public hate the most – glass, which can subsequently break, plastic and cans and a lot of food and drink. These are the things that upset people when they want to see a green space. Everybody wants to be proud of their local park.’

Schoolchildren and local residents joined the Great British Spring Clean in Woodcock Park, Kenton, Harrow, yesterday. The Great British Spring Clean has already had 484,214 people pledge their support

The Great British Spring Clean, which runs until April 23, has won widespread support. Backers include the Church of England, Prince William, the United Nations and the Women’s Institute. 

Sir David Attenborough and Chris Packham have also praised the campaign, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called it ‘an inspiring initiative’. 

Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman, who has organised a pick-up in her Workington constituency, said yesterday: ‘If marine plastic continues to rise at its current rate, the amount of plastic in the sea will outweigh fish by 2050. We simply cannot carry on like this.’

Former Countryfile star Julia Bradbury, an ambassador for Keep Britain Tidy, yesterday urged more Britons to do their bit to help.

Taking part in a litter-pick with her four-year-old twin daughters Zena and Xanthe, she said: ‘It’s incredible that so many people have signed up to take part in this year’s Spring Clean. It is indicative of how important it is to people and what a positive thing to do and be involved with.

‘It costs an unbelievable amount of money each year to clean up litter, and there’s not a single person who can’t think of something better we could spend that money on than picking up the mess of lazy people.

‘My hope is that it becomes as socially unacceptable to drop litter as it is to drink and drive.’

Children from Goldthorpe Primary School, Barnsley, are pictured out litter picking today for the ‘Great British Spring Clean’. Today, adults will join in the effort by picking up waste at shopping parades, woodlands, supermarket car parks, beaches and streets

A lesson to inspire us all

By Jane Fryer

Whenever Thisbe Mendes spots someone dropping a crisp packet, or a can, or a plastic bottle, she gets involved. 

She can’t not, unlike so many of us who quietly look the other way.

So instead, and accompanied by a hard stare, she unleashes her ‘really deep speech’.

It goes like this: ‘You’re affecting the future. You’re making it worse for your kids. And for their kids. So stop. And Pick It Up!’

School children from the Eco Group of West Jesmond Primary School in Newcastle were out in Jesmond picking up litter yesterday as part of the campaign

It doesn’t always go smoothly. Litter-bugs roll their eyes and call her a ‘teacher’, but usually they pick up whatever they’ve dropped, so 14-year-old Thisbe is happy.

Of course she is. Because while, like any teenager, she adores Netflix and Starbucks and lolling about on the sofa, she’s also an astonishingly active member of the Eco Committee at St Gregory’s Catholic Science College in Harrow.

Along with other members of the Eco Committee, she gives up her lunch breaks to recycle print cartridges and encourages teachers to turn off their computers at night. 

She lent a hand planting 2,500 crocus bulbs in the park next door. She helped write campaigning letters to Dr Therese Coffey MP about the plight of sharks and she lies awake night after night, worrying about the future of the planet and what a mess the grown-ups have made of it.

So it goes without saying that when pupils from St Gregory’s were asked to don rubber gloves and wellies and join in the Great British Spring Clean in Woodcock Park next to the school, she was one of the first to start loading up a bin bag with smelly old cans, plastic bottles and the odd dirty nappy. 

And she was in good company. Because yesterday, in an extraordinarily uplifting effort, representatives from pretty much every section of the community were hard at it by her side, sporting rubber gloves, wellies and oodles of co-operative spirit.

  • Here we go! 461,000 litter heroes start tidying the UK TODAY… Choked by waste: A fridge, an old sofa and HUNDREDS of…

Share this article

There were children from two primary schools (Uxendon Manor and Mount Stewart); toddlers from the Bright Start Nursery brandishing litter pickers taller than they were; eight staff members and the manager from the Ginger Indian restaurant; a local councillor; a clutch from the synagogue; a smartly turned out trio from the Northwick Park Rotary Club; members of the Woodcock Park Friends group and a dog called Blossom there to lend moral support.

But beneath the smiles there is frustration and anger – about litter, plastic, global warming and the appalling impact their elders have had on their environment.

‘We feel very let down,’ says Thisbe. ‘I don’t want to live in a world filled with plastic,’ says Lillian, 13. ‘I want it to be clean.’

‘I’m surprised it’s been allowed to happen,’ says Samantha, 13. ‘It’s like people just don’t care. Maybe they’re lazy, or maybe they just don’t know it affects us all, but eventually of course, it will.’

Anne Robinson picks up rubbish walking through a park with her daughter Emma and grand-children, Parker, 8 (left) and Hudson, 10. Ms Robinson says she is astonished to be reminded that the Mail’s remarkable campaign to limit the use of plastic began a decade ago

While the older children are indignant, the primary school children are just confused.

‘I don’t really understand. People keep their bedrooms and their houses tidy, so why don’t they keep the environment tidy?’ says nine-year-old Anina, from Uxendon. ‘It’s mostly grown-ups, so we need to change their attitude otherwise the animals and plants suffer.’

Gosh. I feel a red flush of shame for my generation. Everyone here under the age of 15 agrees that grown-ups are the culprits – and the worst offenders are often their parents. 

Yolanda Chen, nine and from Uxendon, says: ‘I have to tell my dad off a lot. He drops cans all the time, so I pick them up.’

Andrew Prindiville, St Gregory’s head, is shivering with cold, but glowing with pride. ‘These are amazing children,’ he says.

Pupils from Woodstock Primary School in Oxfordshire also took part in the campaign by picking up litter

All the kids I meet have a thirst for knowledge – not just to gather it, but to share it. ‘We have to educate adults,’ seems to be their catchphrase and it seems clear that these impressive youngsters should be our role models, rather than the other way round.

They’re all so switched on, it’s a joy. They follow current affairs avidly, and have firm views of what they’d do if they were Prime Minister – ban single-use plastic, increase environmental awareness and have compulsory litter picks.

In an hour, we have gathered a staggering 46 bags of rubbish. All piled up together, they look grotesque. Don’t the children mind tidying up after grown-ups who really should know better?

‘Not really,’ says Yolanda.

‘Because if they don’t and then we don’t, it will stay there for ever damaging our world.’

Source: Read Full Article