Why you should get behind the Daily Mail's call for litter pickers

Let’s clean up Britain, urges Boris Johnson as shocking photographs of a litterbug landscape reveal why you should join the Daily Mail’s Great British Spring Clean

  • Keep Britain Tidy launched its Great British Spring Clean programme on Saturday and called for volunteers
  • Everyone up and down the country is being called on to help clean up plastic rubbish scattered across Britain
  • Amazingly, 563,163 volunteers signed up to remove litter from this green and pleasant land last year
  • Great British Spring clean starts Friday March 20. To volunteer, simply go online to www.gbspringclean.org!

The Daily Mail today once more calls on public-spirited readers to join the fight against the blight of litter.

More than half a million volunteers signed up for the Great British Spring Clean last year – clearing streets, parks, beaches and countryside.

Organised with Keep Britain Tidy, the campaign was a huge success with 17,097 organised clean-ups collecting 957,377 bags of rubbish between them. It is thought to have been the biggest ever environmental action carried out in the UK.

This year we aim to make it even larger by enlisting up to a million volunteers for events running from March 20 to April 13.

Some experts have already been drafted in – with the Wombles coming out of hibernation to help reach our goal. Orinoco was pictured with Boris Johnson for the campaign’s official launch.

As the Mail asks YOU to join our inspirational litter clean-up… look who’s come back to help! (Womble Orinoco meets Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the House of Commons this week)

The Prime Minister said: ‘Litter blights our communities, spoils our countryside and harms wildlife. Campaigns like these make a big difference to our planet and help ensure the UK’s beautiful countryside is preserved for generations to come.

‘I applaud the Daily Mail and Keep Britain Tidy for calling on communities to come together and join the fight against litter.’

It is hoped the Wombles of Wimbledon Common will inspire a new generation to roll up their sleeves and clean up the things that ‘everyday folks leave behind’. Readers can take part in organised spring-cleaning events – or start their own, either as a group or solo.

Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: ‘The Great British Spring Clean is now an institution and one we are very proud of at Keep Britain Tidy.

‘We are absolutely fixated with making litter-picking a sport, something every community can get involved with. The Wombles are back because we need them as never before. Many of our volunteers identify with and even call themselves Wombles so, for them and for us, it is great to have the Wombles coming out of hibernation.

‘Our environment is under threat from the waste that we produce and litter being chucked into the natural world, and we all have a part to play in reversing that damage.’

Fiona Nicholls, plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: ‘The hard work and people power it takes to clear the litter from a local park or beach is amazing. People are trying to do their bit… businesses and the Government must do the same, by setting plastic reduction targets to end the scourge of plastic pollution and to stop plastic fuelling the climate crisis.’

The Daily Mail has mounted a series of landmark environmental campaigns including Turn the Tide on Plastic, Be a Tree Angel, and Curb the Cups. This newspaper also successfully pressed for the plastic bag levy that has slashed the number going to landfill and generated millions for charity. 

Join us – and we’ll clean up! 563,163 volunteers joined our campaign last year to clean up the litter blighting Britain. We can do even better in 2020 – and it couldn’t be easier to take part (just ask a Womble!)

Whatever you have planned this weekend, you are likely to come across discarded litter. On country walks, it’s the depressing sight of crisp packets in the hedgerows or discarded dog poo bags up in the trees.

Visit a beach and you’ll doubtless come across tangled clumps of bottles and broken plastic washed up on the sand.

On car trips, it’s impossible to avoid those eyesore verges and lay-bys strewn with unwanted cartons, cans, plastic bags and wrappers thrown out of windows.

But for every thoughtless litter lout, there are countless others who want a cleaner outlook on life. Today, with the backing of the Daily Mail, Keep Britain Tidy launches this year’s Great British Spring Clean and it is set to be bigger than ever before.

Amazingly, 563,163 volunteers joined our campaign last year to clean up the litter blighting Britain. We can do even better in 2020 – and it couldn’t be easier to take part (just ask a Womble!)

Last year, an astonishing 563,163 volunteers pledged to help – the biggest ever mass-participation environmental campaign – clearing parks, beaches, streets and common land of the equivalent of 239,344 wheelie bins full of rubbish – nearly 20 per cent of which was plastic bottles which were recycled.

At 17,097 events across England, Wales and Scotland, our readers collected almost a million bags of rubbish (957,377 to be precise) – that’s 4,308 tonnes of litter that would have blighted our open spaces, potentially harming wildlife. More than 270 local authorities got involved, and the campaign was publicly backed by 89 MPs.

In fact, the campaign was referenced four times in the House of Commons and another four times in the Lords.

Now, the challenge is to make even more of an impact this year.

Again, everyone involved will be encouraged to separate plastic to be recycled.

Even if you live hundreds of miles from the nearest beach, your efforts will help protect the world’s oceans from the scourge of plastic trash. It’s estimated that 80 per cent of plastic in our seas originated on land.

That’s because, wherever you live, inland plastic is blown in to rivers and out to sea on a windy day. When it rains heavily, the rubbish littering the gutters is washed into storm drains or overflowing sewers, eventually making its way into the ocean.

Flash mob: Youngsters on Chesil Beach, Dorset, celebrate after successfully removing plastic pollution from the coastline

Globally, rivers carry more than two million tonnes of plastic into the sea every year. And as we now know, the world’s oceans simply cannot cope. But if you join The Great British Spring Clean between March 20 and April 13 this year, you can be confident you will be reducing that burden. Let’s rally a million volunteers to give Britain the biggest spring clean yet.

More than 150 councils are already on board, agreeing to supply or lend equipment and arrange for safe disposal and effective recycling.


To get litter picking with The Daily Mail’s campaign simply go online to www.gbspringclean.org to sign up today! 

Every sack of rubbish you gather means you are saving potentially thousands of pieces of microplastic from finding their way into the ocean to poison sealife for decades to come.

You will also be helping to make our towns and countryside beautiful again.


March 20 – April 13, 2020.


On beaches, in town centres, parks, woodland areas – across the UK.


Because litter – and particularly plastic litter – is a terrible blight to this country. Taxpayers spend £800 million every year to clear up after thoughtless litter louts and fly-tippers. Litter is also a threat to our wildlife – the RSPCA receives 5,000 calls each year reporting animals injured as a result of litter.

Flash mob: Superhero Parker Lawrie, four, of Walsall pictured last year armed with a litter picker as he cleans the countryside

Shameful sight in Newcastle-upon-Tyne: A burnt-out bin spews rubbish on to a pavement 

Unsightly Edinburgh: Litter is snagged in grass at the side of a road in Scotland 


Go to wwww.gbspringclean.org and choose from one of three litter-picking options:

  • You can ‘pledge to pick’: Contribute by picking up as much litter as you like, whenever you like, during the campaign period.
  • You can host a clean-up, either a private event with friends, family, a community group or work colleagues – or even an open event that other people can join
  • You can join a public clean-up in your area. In the coming weeks groups will be set up and their details added to a special interactive online map. Click on the map to find out details and email the organiser. They will then liaise with you directly.


We are asking all volunteers to separate the litter they find into three bags for recycling:

  • One for plastic bottles (which can be easily recycled);
  • One for aluminium cans (highly recyclable);
  • One for all other types of rubbish and waste.


Everyone and anyone! We’re aiming for thousands of volunteers to join forces – in partnership with community organisations, businesses and councils – to collect and safely dispose of litter from our streets, parks and beaches.

Threat to wildlife: This is part of the unsightly accumulation of litter that regularly clogs up the waternear the end of the Manchester Ship Canal, Salford

Threat to wildlife: A seagull pecks at a discarded plastic bottle in Manchester Ship Canal, Salford


It’s just a way of recording your interest, support and involvement. You just need to be able to pick up litter – even one piece a day during the campaign is one fewer littering our environment. You’ll find advice at www.gbspringclean.org


If you’re keen to organise a private group of friends, family or work colleagues, just select the ‘private group’ option when you register. Because your event is private, only those you invite will be able to join your group. You can organise as many clean-ups as you want between March 20 and April 13 at any number of locations.


When you sign up to the Great British Spring Clean you can keep track of everything on your own personalised online ‘dashboard’. This is your own space where you can add clean-ups, get access to useful guides and find out what to do with your rubbish. This is also where you can go after your clean-up to record your results.

Wasteland in Merthyr Tidfil: A rubbish-strewn roadside in the area featuring plastic toys, rusting cans and a mattress

Wasteland in Merthyr Tidfil: Ponies graze on a rubbish-strewn roadside in South Wales 


We’ve written seven useful guides to different aspects, such as registering your clean-up, finding a great location, promoting your clean-up (with social media templates you can use), information about equipment, collection and recycling, details of health and safety as well as public liability insurance, and how to spread the word and report your impact.

We are urging all hosts to return to the website after each event to let us know how much litter was successfully collected. We’re hoping to keep count of how many people took part, how long they spent picking up litter, how many bags were collected, and what type of litter was gathered.


If you need any – such as litter-pickers, high-vis vests, bags or gloves – your local authority may be able to help you. You can also find all the equipment you need at Wilko stores across the UK and www.wilko.com from February 4.


Go to gbspringclean.org and read our guide or watch our video to find out how to stay safe during a clean-up. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately with sturdy footwear (wellies or walking boots are ideal), thick gloves and, ideally, a high-vis vest. Never pick up needles – let the event organiser know about them and they will contact the council. And if you find broken glass, don’t ever put it in a bag. Put it in a bucket if you have one to hand, or just leave it where it is.


Aim to recruit friends, family or colleagues to join you. Follow Keep Britain Tidy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or subscribe on YouTube to keep track of what others are doing – and share posts from your own account using the hashtag #GBSpringClean. You can also fund-raise via Justgiving.com/keepbritaintidy – and use social media to encourage your friends and family to sponsor your clean up.

To volunteer simply go online to www.gbspringclean.org to sign up today! 

Trapped: A barrier catches a haul of plastic rubbish in the River Lea in Tottenham Hale, London 

Grim tide: A gull tries to eat a polystyrene takeaway container thrown into the harbour in the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth 

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