Litter picking 500 miles was always Gonna Be easy

A blog post by Heather McLaughlin

Heather McLaughlin
Campaigns Coordinator – Litter and LEQ

Posted 01/07/2021

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🎵When I was waking up in 2021, well I knew we were gonna be, we were gonna be keeping Scotland beautiful and litter picking too. 🎵

When we went into lockdown last March one of the first things I had to do was cancel our Spring Clean. As you can imagine #TeamKSBScot was eager to bring it back again this year and we’ve been delighted to see the same, if not more, support from individuals, communities and partners as we’ve always had.

The Summer Clean was a little different this year from our normal Spring Clean. Just before Christmas we decided to delay the 2021 Spring Clean from its normal April and May timeframe due to ongoing restrictions, and push it into June, when hopefully things would be opening back up, making it a Summer Clean.  After a year in various stages of lockdown, working remotely and not being able to meet in large groups outdoors it was tough to get my head around the idea of how a Summer Clean could work. Under normal circumstances we’d be encouraging groups across Scotland to organise public events with as many people as possible involved in litter picking activities. The images we normally use would feature large groups of people, huddled together, waving litter pickers, smiling and surrounding a pile of bags full of litter. That clearly couldn’t happen this year, instead we needed to ensure we had a flexible plan to support individuals and small groups, which could be adapted to whatever stage of lockdown we might be in when the Summer Clean arrived (and it always comes sooner that I’m ready for!).

This year we joined forces once again with Keep Britain Tidy and Keep Wales Tidy to support the Great British Spring Clean and work towards a UK-wide Million Mile Mission. As soon as we started talking about miles and encouraging supporters to pledge to litter pick miles we knew that in Scotland we were gonna be asking partners and organisations to pledge 500 miles (what other figure could we use!).

The goal was set, and organisations and community groups jumped at the chance to support us with our goal to clean up Scotland.

I was eager to make sure I was out and about, litter picking and meeting fellow litter pickers during the Summer Clean. When I was told the Great Angus Beach Clean was launching the same day as we were it felt like the perfect opportunity to join one of our most active community groups, East Haven Together. It also provided me with an excuse to nip to my mum’s in Montrose for a homecooked meal the night before.

Just as it always does (not), the sun came out on the day ready for us to litter pick and get some photos. Although, having not seen people for so long, we all chatted for so long that the haar came in just in time for the interviews to take place.

My next stop was going to be a solo litter pick down the East Coast, however an opportunity to join a litter pick with Ladyloan Primary School in Arbroath cropped up. The Daily Mail photographer was interested in doing more photos there, and here I was as someone who could casually say ‘I happen to have a litter picking costume in my car….’ Half an hour later I was on a beach in Arbroath dressed as a crisp packet, getting photographed with lots of kids litter picking around me!

I’m proud to say the rest of the Summer Clean was as busy as the launch day. We had a series of partners and community groups mass pledge their time, lots of activity taking place that I unfortunately could only join digitally, and during the timeframe we had events and actions take place in every local authority across Scotland.

So, thanks to those of you who pledged minutes, organised events and shared our messages. Amazingly, we managed to litter pick over 75,000 miles! You have all helped us keep Scotland beautiful…

…now, let’s keep it that way!

Check out the Summer Clean impact stats.

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