We are hearing more about the damage caused by litter to our environment, particularly plastic, which can be blown or washed far away, polluting not just our local environment but also our oceans and countryside. Plastic in particular takes hundreds of years to rot down. It can break down into tiny particles which can enter the food chain for example through the fish that eat it. Plastic is often mistaken for food by animals who can die from eating it. Dead fish and seabirds have been found with their stomachs full of plastic.
Cigarette butts are a particular hazard. They can choke small animals when mistaken for food and release toxins into the environment. According to the New Scientist, one cigarette butt soaked in a litre of water for 96 hours leaches out enough toxins to kill half the fish exposed to them. Cigarettes are fiddly and time consuming to pick up, making them an expensive habit even when they've been discarded.
Litter spoils our neighbourhoods. It can encourage crime and attract pests. Litter costs Councils thousands of pounds to clean up. Litter is against the law and anyone caught littering could be fined up to £150.
In July 2020, Bath & North East Somerset Council launched an anti-littering campiagn with the powerful message 'Don't be a tosser'. 'Don't be a tosser' signs were installed in parks and open spaces in Keynsham, Saltford and Bath, where littering is a real problem.
More information about how the council handles littering and enforcement can be found by clicking here
How can you help?
We can all help to tackle litter by putting it in a bin or taking it home with us and spreading the word. Here some more ideas for ways you can help.
- Balloons - don't release balloons into the sky - they will fly away and become litter when they eventually land. Make sure you pick up the broken water balloons after a water fight
- Glitter - glitter is made of tiny particles of plastic and is best avoided. If you do use it, please dispose of it carefully in the bin - it cannot be recycled.
- Pick it up - pick up plastic as you go along and pop it in the bin, providing it is safe to pick up
- Do a beach clean up - more people are now clearing plastic up from the beach when they visit it. You could do the same for anywhere (parks, mountains etc.)
- Replace disposable items with longer lasting re-usable items (eg use a bag for life, carry a water bottle)
- Recycle them - Terracycle will recycle the plastic and compost the paper and tobacco. Go to Terracycle to find out more
- Dispose of them safely - many bins have a top to stub your cigarette out before putting it in the bin.
- We issue postcards to areas where cigarette butts are prevalent, to remind people to stub them out and bin them properly.
Do your own litter picking
- Pick up litter as you go along, whether that be along your street, at the park or at the beach or on the campsite. Only pick up litter that you know is safe to pick and wash your hands after.
- Join a local litter picking group or organise one of your own. please go to Organising a Litter Pick to find out more.
- Become a community volunteer. No Place for Litter are looking for individuals and groups who would like to become local litter picking groups and act as a contact point for others, with equipment provided by the Council. Contact 07713 417974 email@example.com if you are interested.
Gulls can be noisy and aggressive and rip open bags of rubbish in their search for food.
- Please make sure all your waste is properly contained - put your food waste in your lockable food bin, and your rubbish inside your wheeled bin or re-usable rubbish bag.
- When out and about, dispose carefully of your food and other waste.
- Please go to Seagulls to find out more about the Council’s campaign to tackle seagulls.
- Teach the children about the hazards of litter and get them involved. We have child friendly leaflets available on request.
- We can support schools that want to carry out their own litter picks by lending them equipment (please go to litter picks to find out more).
- Go to Keep Britain Tidy for Keep Britain Tidy’s free school resource pack.
Keep Britain Tidy
We support Keep Britain Tidy and help to promote their annual Great British Spring Clean. This year, the campaign will run from 28 May - 13 June 2021 and B&NES residents, community groups and local businesses are being called on to give their local areas a good spring clean.
The Great British September Clean is about demonstrating that you love where you live – whether that’s by pledging to pick while you’re walking the dog or taking the kids to school, hosting a cleanup or joining someone else’s cleanup.
It is the country's biggest mass-action environmental campaign to bring people together to clear up the litter that blights our towns, villages and countrysides.
Last time, more than 560,000 people took part across the country and this year Keep Britain Tidy are aiming to get 600,000 #LitterHeroes out there.