It's rubbish that people have to clean up after litter bugs
A blog post by Derek Robertson
- Is 2020 the year for a circular economy in Scotland?
- A year in the life of: the campaigns and innovation team
- Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime
- Setting sail: all aboard the partnership
- Free wheeling
- Scotland is thirsty for change
- This #ScotClimateWeek, are you ready to pledge?
- Upstream Battle at Whinhill Primary School
- Elaine Hopley on our Upstream Battle week of action
- 20 September climate strikes: what took place and what happens now?
- Playing our part to reduce cup waste
- The funeral of a glacier: time to pull the emergency brake
- Get your Paws on Plastic
- Arran – exploring its hidden gems
- It’s time to take action to reverse climate change
- Monitoring litter to help keep Scotland beautiful
- Tackling Our Unsustainable Cup Consumption
- Cups hitting the ground: what we learned at TRNSMT Festival
- We All Have To Fight The UpStream Battle
- The power of pocket gardens
- Registering your clean up makes a difference
- Tackling climate change starts at home
- Speaking the language of Carbon Literacy
- The life of a Keep Scotland Beautiful intern
- Wheatley Group: two years on and still going strong
- Roadside Litter: Think twice before you chuck
- Our citizen scientists are ready to make waves for Upstream Battle
- Taking a stand on climate change – what actions will you take?
- The Cup Movement will tackle our litter culture head on
- Working across borders to tackle climate change
- Celebrating 25 years of Eco-Schools in Scotland
- Climate change – it’s personal
- Putting young people first for our environment at Keep Scotland Beautiful
- Treading lightly – steps to lower our carbon footprint
- Aunty Babs washes her spoon and so should you
- Climate change: we can all do our bit
- Have yourself a green Christmas
- Shifting up a gear on Scotland’s roadside litter problem
- It’s time to consign our litter problem to the dustbin of history
- We can save our seas by starting at home
- Everyone can do their bit to protect the world – what’s your Goal?
It is a wonderful thing to be reminded of the power to deliver positive change when we all come together. That’s the overriding impression as we draw a close on this year’s national Spring Clean - the voluntary clean-up activity over April and May which we coordinate as part of our Clean Up Scotland campaign.
We make no apology for two strong emotions as we reflect on the achievements of this year’s Spring Clean - a sense of pride in the fantastic volunteers who played their part in cleaning up their local environment; and a deep sense of frustration that so much work remains to be done in persuading others to dispose of their litter responsibly.
Every individual action in cleaning up is important in its own right, but the total this year of over 40,000 volunteers stepping forward to take part in over 700 litter-pick events and other clean-ups all across Scotland is truly remarkable.
Volunteers, individually and in groups, have stepped forward to help deal with the irresponsibility of others, and they are having to do so because our littering behaviour is getting worse. Our annual audit of the cleanliness of our streets and open spaces makes clear that we have a real problem, and it’s getting worse. Last year’s analysis was the worst outcome in the last decade. We should be ashamed of it.
On the one hand it’s shocking that people have to volunteer to clean up the mess left by others. But on the other, people do it, because they are proud of their communities. So, whilst paying tribute to the clean-up movement, we need a massive national effort to change littering behaviour.
Businesses are increasingly playing their part too, Spring Clean 2019 benefitted from strong support from Scotmid, in addition to over 50 clean-ups organised by a wide range of businesses determined to play their part in delivering a cleaner, greener environment.
Each individual is a hero, but I’ve been struck by the sheer diversity of our volunteers areas of focus - city centres to long distance footpaths, coastlines to forests and in every single part of Scotland.
This is now year five of the Scottish Government’s national litter strategy, which seeks to bring together the various sectors of society who need to work together to change attitudes to litter. It rightly identified that government had a major role to play, but so do busineses, local authorities, the charity sector and individuals and community groups. It was right to highlight the need for apartnership approach. It was right in highlighting the need for urgent action.
Five years on, we’re starting to see rising awareness of the problem, and increasing participation in the initiatives that are seeking to solve the problem but what we really need is a national, and transformational, change in attitudes to littering behaviour.
It is still the case that too many people see others discarding litter and do too little to challenge that carelessness. It is still the case that some communities are blighted by litter and our public agencies struggle in the face of declining budgets to provide support.