The Clean Europe Network defines litter as "waste of small size in publicly accessible areas that has been improperly discarded in the environment, whether wilfully or by negligence”.
Litter is the only core topic in the Eco-Schools programme, and must be one of the three Topics covered in order to achieve Green Flag Award status.
Here are some resources to get you started on this topic:
Eco-Schools Curricular Map - Litter Topic
Our revised curricular maps showing Experiences and Outcomes related to the Litter Topic.
Eco-Schools Litter Audit Tool
A Clean Up is a great opportunity for Measuring. This tool contains a checklist of types of litter, as well as space to keep track of how much you have collected, and where from. Grades are drawn from our LEAMS methodology, the national indicator for street cleanliness.
Organise a Clean Up
Taking part in a Clean Up is a great way for people of all ages to get into the fresh air together, enjoy some exercise, and make a real, visible difference at the same time. Register your Clean Up on our website and we will send you a FREE Clean Up Kit full of tabards, stickers and resources. Our partners The Helping Hand Company offer a discount to schools purchasing litter picking equipment.
Inspiration - Marine Litter Pathways Art Competition
In 2018 we organised a schools’ art competition in partnership with Blair Drummond Safari Park asking pupils to design an art piece thinking about marine litter from source to sea. Winning entries are on display at the safari park. Here is a selection of the best entries for Litter Topic inspiration!
Clean Up Scotland - Free Litter Posters to Download
Free posters you can download and print. Scroll down to the bottom of our Clean Up Scotland page.
Wrigley Litter Less Campaign
Keep Scotland Beautiful is pleased to be offering the Wrigley Litter Less campaign for a sixth year to schools participating in Eco-Schools. The campaign aims to reduce litter and affect long-term behaviour change among youth. Run by the Foundation for Environmental Education's Eco-Schools programme with the support of the Wrigley Company Foundation.
Have a look at what schools have achieved in previous years in our Litter Less Case Studies page.
Helping Hand Environmental - Clean Up Equipment
If you are interested in Clean Up kits and equipment all our volunteers and groups are able to get 15% off any order from Helping Hand Environmental on their website - simply put in KSBGROUP as the discount code. Or use the order form for schools, with the discount already applied, below.
Marine Litter - Source to Sea
There is a clear path from land to sea, with litter dropped on our streets and beaches ending up in our waterways and eventually in the ocean. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 80% of marine and coastal litter comes from land based activities. Once discarded, plastics are weathered and eroded into very small fragments known as microplastics. These, together with plastic pellets called nurdles are already found in most beaches around the world.
Plastic litter has a particularly bad effect on marine wildlife. Turtles can’t tell the difference between plastic carrier bags and jellyfish and often starve to death from eating them. The Marine Conservation Society says over 90% of Fulmars found dead around the North Sea have plastic in their stomachs.
Upstream Battle - Keep Scotland Beautiful
Keep Scotland Beautiful's showcase campaign focusing on the Clyde to stop marine litter at its source. Sign up for campaign updates and help stop litter's journey from source to sea.
Marine Litter Posters - Clean Up Scotland
If your school is located near the coast or has planned a visit to a favourite beach, these posters containing facts, types and sources of litter might be a useful part of your litter topic.
Cool Seas Explorers (Primary) - Marine Conservation Society
Explore a range of primary learning outlines. Designed to be delivered as one lesson or over a series of lessons, enabling flexibility to suit different settings, and divided into younger years (roughly 5 - 7 years) and older years (roughly 7 – 11 years).
Cool Seas Investigators (Secondary) - Marine Conservation Society
Cool Seas Investigators (CSI) projects engage students aged 10-16 years in key marine conservation issues. Each project involves young people analysing data, working collaboratively and generating solutions to a real-world issue, which has both local and global significance. Includes the Unflushables - A project developed by the MCS in conjunction with Keep Scotland Beautiful and Zero Waste Scotland, to target the issue of sanitary waste reaching our beaches.
Great Nurdle Hunt - FIDRA
Nurdles are small plastic pellets about the size of a lentil. Countless billions are used each year to make nearly all our plastic products but many end up washing up on our shores. The Great Nurdle Hunt aims to end further industrial plastic pellet or 'nurdle' pollution into Scottish seas.
Marine Litter Lesson Plan - World's Largest Lesson
An excellent lesson plan on marine litter from The World's Largest Lesson on the threat of litter to ocean life, featuring UNEP Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh. Suitable for 8-15 year olds.
Stride Global Citizenship Magazine - Journey of a Plastic Bag
Map the journey of a plastic bag from supermarket to ocean using a photograph sequencing activity.
Can't Flush This!
A brilliant video from United Utilities, a water company in the North West of England with a funny look at the damage caused by flushing sanitary waste, wet wipes and cotton buds.
According to Zero Waste Scotland, we collect 50 Kelpies’ worth of litter every year. That’s 15,000 tonnes, or 250 million items – nearly 50 pieces of litter for every person in Scotland. Or, in other words, 475 dropped every minute. Half our streets are blighted by cigarette litter, and litter-pickers now collect an average of 1,963 pieces of litter per kilometre on Scotland’s beaches.
Littered areas attract more litter, with people more likely to drop litter somewhere that already has a problem. As well as being an eyesore, litter affects both our health and the environment. The presence of litter has been shown to make people feel less safe, with a greater fear of crime and more health issues in areas where there is a higher level of litter.
Cleaning up litter is also expensive and time consuming. In Scotland, we spend more than £1 million every week cleaning up litter and flytipping and with tourism worth over £4bn a year the consequences are clear.
Roadside Litter Classroom Presentation
A PowerPoint presentation to start a conversation about roadside litter in your classroom. Comes with discussion notes.
Roadside Litter Caption and Colouring Sheet
An activity to accompany the Roadside Litter classroom presentation. Pupils can colour in our Roadside Litter Campaign mascots and say why it's important to give your litter a lift!
How to carry out a Clean Up Survey
A quick survey tool to collect data on how littered your Clean Up area is. An excellent tool to use for Measuring for the Litter topic. Share your survey results with us at Keep Scotland Beautiful and contribute to our work.
Litter Pick Plus Toolkit
Our Litter Pick Plus Toolkit is your guide to running a successful Clean Up event and is the result of our 15 years of experience working with a network of community groups to deliver a national Clean Up campaign.
Dress Up Like a Crisp Packet!
Keep Scotland Beautiful has a range of mascot costumes available to help raise awareness of issues such as litter and dog fouling. Costumes are available to schools free of charge but donations are welcomed. There are three dog costumes, one cigarette butt, one chewing gum, a bottle, a coffee cup and a crisp packet.
Take the Clean Up Scotland Pledge
Join thousands of others to show you care about where you live, work and spend your leisure time. Claim back your streets and parks and let's keep Scotland beautiful.
Clean Europe Network
The Clean Europe Network is a pan-European platform for sharing best practice and research to improve litter prevention across the EU. Keep Scotland Beautiful is proud to be a founding member.
Zero Waste Scotland – Working With Schools to Prevent Litter
Schools across Scotland are finding inventive ways to fit litter into their lesson plans. Integrating litter prevention into the curriculum could be a lot easier than you think.
Goal 12 Lesson Plans - World's Largest Lesson
Litter issues and waste issues go hand in hand. A circular economy approach prevents waste and helps to prevent litter and the costs associated with cleaning it up. Understanding Sustainable Living suitable for 11-14 year olds and Understanding the Challenge of Finite Resources suitable for 12-19 year olds both generate discussions on sustainable living and circular economy.
Let's Do It - Keep it Clean
36 million people in 169 countries all standing up against the global trash problem and working towards a clean and healthy waste free world.
No Litter Generation
A brilliant animated video on litter and its effects on wildlife from the No Litter Generation initiative organized by the World’s Children’s Prize (WCP) and fellow Clean Europe Network member Håll Sverige Rent (Keep Sweden Tidy). with support from the Swedish Postcode Lottery.
Håll Sverige Rent run the Eco-Schools programme for schools in Sweden called Grön Flagg.
The Story of Chewing Gum
Amber Pomeranz and Lauren Lehane, students at Presentation Secondary School in Ireland, teamed up to tell the story of chewing gum – from its history to how it’s currently manufactured and how innovative ways are being found to reduce its negative impact on the environment after use. This video won the 2018 The Story of Your Stuff competition in Co. Kerry with Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Even pets aren’t allowed to litter. Dog fouling is one of the most noticeable problems affecting our streets with one in every six sites affected despite fines doubling in 2016 and 7 out of 10 people saying it is the cleanliness problem that bothers them most. The biggest risk from dog fouling is an infection from roundworm spreading toxocariasis, which can cause eye damage.
My Beach Your Beach
My Beach, Your Beach is our latest campaign aiming to improve beach bathing water quality by tackling gull and dog fouling, and littering.
Over summer 2018, we are running a series of behaviour change interventions at three well known beaches: South Beach in Ayr, Fisherrow Sands in Musselburgh and Portobello Beach in Edinburgh.
Clean Up Scotland - Dog Fouling
In our recent research into public attitudes to littering, almost 7 out of 10 people rated dog fouling as the item on our streets, parks and beaches that bothered them most. And, with around 820,000 dogs in Scotland, producing over 100,000+ tonnes of excrement per year, it’s easy to see why we have a problem.
Bincentives - Marine Conservation Society
New, innovative, anti-littering campaign for secondary schools. Based on an idea from Hampton High School in London, winners of our CSI Litter Challenge project, Bincentives motivates students to take action on the global, social and environmental catastrophe of litter. Focusing on a series of posters displaying emoji messages, the campaign engages students by rewarding positive behaviour with school-determined rewards.
Litter and the Environment
Litter is usually grouped into eight main material types, but the most commonly found items are made of plastic. Despite what many people think, plastic never biodegrades, it just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually entering the food chain as microplastic. Smaller items flushed down toilets avoid sewage filters and end up on our beaches, while larger items like carrier bags can trap or choke animals, clog drains and damage marine ecosystems by smothering riverbeds and marshland.
Glass is one of the longest lasting man made materials and will not break down naturally in our lifetime. Another problem with glass is that it breaks into sharp pieces which can pose a threat to wildlife. Balloons and sky lanterns might look impressive, but ribbons and string tied to balloons can lead to the entanglement of birds and animals and some lanterns have a wire structure which does not degrade and can harm livestock.
Even natural items like banana and orange peels are litter, with the John Muir Trust pointing out that they take weeks to decompose particularly in the colder environment of Scotland’s hills. Chewing gum remains on our streets and pavements forever unless it is removed at great cost.
According to our 2016 report, Scotland’s environmental quality is in decline with an end to nearly ten years of improvements.
The good news is, we can all do something about it!
Litter Case Studies
Deanpark Primary School
Deanpark Primary School took on a project to clean up Bavelaw Burn after three members of their Eco-Committee expressed concern at the amount of litter affecting people and wildlife.
Children and staff at Rannoch Nursery participated in the Wrigley Litter Less Campaign and received £250 to fund a Litter campaign in their community. Children designed their own bin and reached out to local high school pupils as Litter Police.
Golfhill Primary School
Golfhill Primary School’s Eco-Committee wanted to take care of an area of their community that could be enjoyed by everyone. They chose their local burn and organised a community clean up day, with plans to carry out future work along with parents and local organisations.
Gavinburn Primary School
Pupils at Gavinburn Primary School decided to adopt a local wildlife area to take care of a local wildlife area they used for Forest Schools. Together with the local nursery, members of the public and parents, they organised a community clean up and plan to continue these activities through their Eco-Schools work.
Ballachulish Primary School
Using funding from the Wrigley Litter Less Campaign, pupils at Ballachulish Primary School improved the cleanliness of their playground, organised a community clean up day and distributed dog fouling bags to people throughout the community.
Castlebay Primary School
Pupils at Castlebay Community School combined projects on Litter and Waste in partnership with another school and conducted a clean up of a local beach.
Lochinver Early Years Centre
Children carried out a marine litter project as part of their participation in the Wrigley Litter Less Campaign through Eco-Schools. Children learned about the dangers of marine litter and where it comes from and produced two leaflets: one for the fishing industry and one for the local community to persuade local harbours to join the KIMO Fishing For Litter Initiative and raise awareness of plastic waste recycling and micro-bead/glitter pollution in the local community.