Skip to main content

Shine a light on litter this winter

20 December 2021

Dog owners urged to support litter picking and put a ‘paws on plastic’

Our recent research shows that 88% of Scots agree that litter is a problem across Scotland.   Litter causes so much harm to our people, animals and our beautiful, natural environment. 

Winter is a time of darkness but one in which we traditionally celebrate with various winter light festivals.  So, we have joined forces with new charity Paws on Plastic to urge dog owners across the country to keep the issue of litter in the spotlight; tackling it head on to improve the health, cleanliness and safety of all of Scotland’s people, animals and environment.

We are asking dog owners to ‘shine a light on litter’ by highlighting the problems litter causes, encouraging others not to drop it, and picking up a few pieces on each dog walk.  We’d also like people to share their images with us on social media as they shine a light on litter.

Heather McLaughlin, one of our Campaign Officers, said, “Our evidence shows that the number of recorded dog fouling incidents increases in the darker colder months, and we suspect littering levels creep up too as people feel, under the cover of darkness that they can get away with illegal behaviours.   However, we along with the thousands of Paws on Plastic members who regularly pick up a piece of litter when out with their dog, are watching, and shining a light on the issue.  Please help us this winter to raise awareness of litter, and the good work that you do to pick it up.  We want to make litter picking the social norm, not dropping it.”

It is important to stay safe, visible and take care when picking up litter and we have guidance on how to do this as part of our Clean Up Scotland campaign.

Marion Montgomery, founder of the online community Paws on Plastic, which now has over 21,000 members across 70 countries, said “Paws on Plastic encourages all dog owners to join the campaign to help protect animals and our precious environment.  It only takes a minute to pick up a couple of pieces of litter when we’re out walking anyway but, with 1 million dogs in Scotland, 12 million in the UK, if we all take a minute, it adds up to a huge impact! It even has the double effect of reducing the amount of litter dropped as studies show that fewer people actually drop litter in clean areas. Pledge your support on our new website

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said, “We are delighted to support this wonderful initiative and to stand alongside Keep Scotland Beautiful and Paws on Plastic to highlight the dangers litter can pose and reduce the amount of litter in our communities.

Unfortunately we see first-hand the damaging effect litter can have on animals.We are called out to jobs after animals and birds have become trapped in fishing line or wire. Discarded rubbish can also pose a threat to animals after they ingest it and it becomes a choking hazard or affects their ability to eat. People should always dispose of their rubbish responsibly. No matter how small, it has the potential to be hazardous or lethal to pets, wildlife and farm animals.  Shine a light on litter’ will help people respect the environment and protect animals from the risks of discarded rubbish.”

With Keep Scotland Beautiful’s annual Spring Clean Scotland set to make a comeback in March next year, supporting people across the country to carry out litter picks, and the Scottish Government currently consulting on a new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy for Scotland which will allow the public to have #YourSayOnLitter until 31 March 2022, this winter campaign will ensure litter doesn’t get lost in the dark.

We support the