The Great British September Clean got off to a flying start yesterday as an army of volunteers turned out across Britain to clear their areas of litter.
With rubbish piling up in town centres and all over the countryside during lockdown, community-spirited champions have begun a mass tidy-up.
Children led the charge with families, local junior groups and individual eco-warriors tackling streets across the UK.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, pictured, joined thousands of volunteers across the country as part of the Daily Mail’s Great British September Clean
Former environment secretary Michael Gove praised the civic pride driving the Great British September Clean, organised by charity Keep Britain Tidy and backed by the Daily Mail.
Yesterday he went litter picking in his Surrey Heath constituency. The clean-up site borders the Blackwater Valley Path, a 22-mile nature trail which passes through woodland and flower-rich meadows.
Mr Gove, who has championed the campaign for several years, said: ‘It’s awful to see our beautiful countryside and green spaces blighted by litter, and the damage being done to our environment and precious wildlife.
‘I want to pay tribute to the Daily Mail, Keep Britain Tidy and the thousands of volunteers across the country for doing their bit and ensuring we can all enjoy a cleaner, greener recovery.’
Elizabeth Gadsdon was among the local heroes out picking up discarded sweet wrappers and drinks bottles yesterday.
Elizabeth Gadson, 9, and her Labrador Banjo were also involved in the clean up in Merseyside
The nine-year-old – who was also a passionate advocate of last year’s Spring Clean – wore a hi-viz jacket as she continued her mission to tidy the area around her home on the Wirral, Merseyside.
Elizabeth – who has earned the nickname of The Little Collector – has committed to daily litter-picks throughout the Great British September Clean campaign.
How can you get involved
The Mail and Keep Britain Tidy are encouraging the public and businesses to help pick up litter from today to September 27.
To comply with coronavirus guidelines, stick to small groups of up to six, observe social-distancing rules and use litter-pickers and thick gloves where possible. Volunteers should also wash their hands thoroughly before and after clean-ups and carry hand sanitiser if possible.
You should only pick up what you can store in your bin at home unless you have arranged with your council to collect full bags. Litter should be tied up in strong waste sacks.
Everyone is welcome to get involved and there are no age restrictions on who can help out.
However, individuals displaying symptoms of coronavirus should not litter-pick but follow Government guidelines to self-isolate instead.
You can get involved in the country’s biggest mass clean-up in two ways:
1Pledge to pick: Whether it’s only 15 minutes while you walk the dog or while you get away from your home office to stretch your legs, you can feel good about taking care of the environment.
2Host a clean-up: With up to five other people from your household or social bubble, maintaining a safe distance. Afterwards, share your messages of support on social media and encourage others to get involved.
Her father Steve, a fireman, said: ‘She’s amazing, she’s the driving force behind our family. We’ve drastically reduced our plastic consumption thanks to Elizabeth.’
It came as former BBC presenter Selina Scott called on Britain to ‘get a grip’ and sort out the litter problem once and for all yesterday.
The RSPCA also gave its full support to the campaign. Chief executive Chris Sherwood revealed the charity has dealt with more than 900 incidents of animals caught in litter since the start of lockdown.
He said: ‘Every year the RSPCA rescues thousands of animals after they have become caught up in carelessly discarded items.
‘Raising awareness could make all the difference to an animal’s life, which could be saved if members of the public picked up and safely binned any litter they saw.’
In 2019, a total of 563,000 people took part, making it the biggest ever national clean-up operation.
When the campaign launched again earlier this year, 680,000 people had pledged to pick up litter within six weeks.
The event then had to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the Mail and Keep Britain Tidy are delighted to be able to push ahead finally with the nationwide tidy-up.
The drive, which runs until September 27, has won widespread support. Backers include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the National Trust and even the Wombles of Wimbledon Common.
Mr Gove was joined on his litter-pick by Keep Britain Tidy deputy chairman Philippa Anderson, who lives in nearby Chobham.
She said: ‘The overwhelming response to last year’s [campaign] showed that thousands of people out there love where they live and are prepared to take action to make it better for themselves, their families and their local communities. It is even more important now.’
Therese Coffey, the former environment minister, also took part in a litter-pick on the roadside by St James’ Park in Westminster.
She collected single-use face masks and plastic cups which had been carelessly thrown on the floor, despite bins being nearby. Work and Pensions Secretary Miss Coffey said: ‘I have been a huge advocate of keeping our environment clean for many years to make sure that everyone can enjoy it now and in the future.’