Join in the fight against litter in St Neots and the surrounding areas

In this three-minute read, we look at how you can improve the local environment by joining the fight against litter.

If the sight of discarded cigarette butts, empty bottles and plastic wrappers makes you see red, you are not alone. Litter is an issue that frustrates and aggravates many people in the UK, and rightly so. Not only is litter unsightly and expensive to remove (in 2017/18 keeping the streets clean cost local authorities £663 million) but it can damage the environment and harm wildlife.

Cigarette packets and butts top the list of items most likely to be dropped, followed by confectionary packets and soft drink bottles and cans. Vehicle parts and clothing also make it into the top ten of most littered items. So, what can you do to help?

Sign Up and Make a Difference

The good news is that an initiative has started to remove at least some of the detritus left on our parks, beaches, streets, and country lanes by litter louts.

The Great British September Clean, which runs from 11 to 27 September, promises to be one almighty tidy-up.

Run by Keep Britain Tidy, it is expected to mobilise hundreds of thousands of volunteers who will either host a clean-up in their local area with others (following the rule of six) or go solo and spend time picking up rubbish in a nearby park or open space.

The campaign came about after plans to hold a similar event – The Great British Spring Clean – were cancelled in March due to Covid-19. Back then, a whopping 680,000 people signed up to help out. No doubt organisers hope that this time around, the sense of community and commitment is just as strong.

Beacons of Litter

It’s ironic (and slightly frustrating) that the sort of person who would never leave their rubbish behind after a picnic or day out (how hard is it to bin it or take it with you?) is also the type most likely to roll their sleeves up and litter pick. If you want to eradicate the scourge of litter, it really is the most effective way to stamp it out.

A study called Beacons of Litter, carried out by Keep Britain Tidy, found that if an area is free of litter, people are less likely to drop rubbish there.

Conversely, if a space is strewn with plastic, bags and paper, people think it’s socially acceptable to follow suit and leave their waste behind.

The study was carried out in Stoke Newington, London, and Stourbridge in the West Midlands over several weeks. Researchers deliberately planted brightly coloured or ‘beacon’ items of rubbish like plastic bags and drinks bottles, and smaller pieces such as paper and tissues. They found that in the areas with beacon litter, 35% of people disposing of waste did so by littering.

In an area with less visible, albeit still annoying, paper and tissue waste, the littering rate dropped to 22%. In tidy areas, the littering rate dropped again to 17%.

Year-round Vigilance

Regular litter picks are, of course, to be applauded but another way to keep on top of the issue is to report litter in St Neots and the surrounding areas to Huntingdonshire District Council.

Frequent reporting will stop litter building up in the first place and play a role in deterring the litter louts. Together we can make a difference.

There will be a litter pick at St Neots Riverside on Sunday the 26th September. Huntingdonshire District Council are also holding other litter picks on various dates and locations throughout September, if you would like to get involved you can contact them at litterminimisation@huntingdonshire.gov.uk

Let’s STOP litter, together!

#GBSeptemberClean #EmbraceYourSpace
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