How to organise a litter pick

Please note: when organising a litter pick make sure your plans are in accordance with local Covid-19 Tier restrictions

Perhaps you’re planning to organise a litter pick as part of your Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community programme, perhaps you want to bring your community together, or perhaps you’re just sick of seeing litter in your local environment and are taking steps to do something about it. Whatever’s motivated you to take action, if this is your first time as organiser, here are some tips for a successful litter pick or ‘plog’ (the Scandinavian word for litter picking while running).

How to organise a litter pick:
  1. Choose a site (with landowner’s permission) and a date & time, and advertise in good time to attract a good crowd.
  2. If you’ll be borrowing the equipment, allow plenty of time to get that arranged – as a minimum, you’ll need pickers (long-handled grabbers), high vis vests, robust gloves and both black and recycling bags. If you can get them, plastic rings to hold the bags open make the job a lot easier. Your local Council may well have equipment to lend – Stroud District Council, for example, will provide everything you need for a successful litter pick. If you are based in our district, call them on 01453 754424 and ask to speak to someone from the Waste & Recycling team.
  3. You’ll need to visit the site in advance to assess for any hazards, and complete a risk assessment. If you’re using Council equipment, they will probably have their own assessment form, or use this simple template.
  4. You’ll also need to make arrangements with the Council for the bags to be collected after your event.
  5. Insurance – if you’re not part of an organised group who already have public liability insurance, you may wish to consider insurance for the event. Ladbrook is one company who provide insurance for litter picks – see their website or call them on 01909 565858.
  6. In the run up, keep an eye on the forecast – you may wish to cancel if the weather might impact the safety of the event.
  7. On the day, welcome your team, and give them any ground rules (for example, your policy on broken glass, dog waste and large/heavy waste, and the fact that under 18s must be supervised by their accompanying adult) to ensure a safe and successful event.

For further information on litter picks locally and nationally go to Keep Britain Tidy, or for specific assistance on litter picks you can also email their Local Hero Ambassador

Do share your successes on social media – perhaps you’ll motivate others to get involved. And if you have time to review the litter you’ve collected, you might like to consider a brand audit – Surfers Against Sewage have a tool for this, along with their powerful #ReturntoOffender campaign: #Seeit, #Snapit, #Shareit. Their 2020 campaign revealed that 12 major brands – the Dirty Dozen – are responsible for over half of all plastic pollution.

Good luck and have fun!

Image credit: Brian Yurasits, Unsplash