One of the fastest growing hobbies since the start of the pandemic has been litter picking.
There are now more than 70 established groups across the city and hundreds of people are cleaning up their communities on a regular basis. As well as the environmental benefits, litter picking has brought people together, provided exercise, and helped to boost mental health.
The Litter Army are supported by Manchester City Council who provide litter picking equipment to the local groups. The council also arrange for all the bags to be picked up by their partners Biffa, ensuring no waste is left on the street.
Due to the increase in interest, Keep Manchester Tidy have developed a membership scheme for those who are keen to get involved in their local litter picking groups and join the fast-growing community.
To join the ever-growing Litter Army please visit: www.manchester.gov.uk/tidymcr
Spring is just around the corner and thanks to the boom in litter picking groups, Manchester City Council and Keep Manchester Tidy are participating in a national scheme called The Great British Spring Clean.
The Great British Spring Clean is a yearly nationwide campaign that runs from the 25 March to the 10 April and, aims to show people that collecting small bags of litter in their communities can overall make a big difference.
Participating in the Great British Spring Clean is the perfect opportunity for those who want to dip their toes into litter picking and trial it in their local area. Keep Manchester Tidy want to encourage as many people, whether they’re new to litter picking or not, to roll their sleeves up, pick up their litter pickers and hit the streets. Taking part is easy. Simply head over to Keep Britain Tidy's website to sign up: www.keepbritaintidy.org/gbspringclean .
Keep Manchester Tidy will be on hand to provide litter picking equipment and support to help people get involved. They are also hosting a series of public litter picking drop-in stations starting on the 25th March with the Great Big School Clean at St Chads RC Primary school in Cheetham.
Collectively, Manchester's litter pickers are making a big difference. Volunteer group, the Wythenshawe Waste Warriors, set themselves an ambitious target to collect 2021 bags of litter during 2021. By the end of the year, they smashed this by collecting a total of 10,340 bags.
In tandem with this, groups such as: Moston Social Clean Up have chosen to focus on the community and social integration whilst making creative posters to attract new volunteers. Hong Kong Volunteers in Manchester also advocate for social integration and allow people, who are new to the city, to cultivate an appreciation and connection to Manchester.
Being a part of the Litter Army has allowed people to stay connected, involved, and active over the pandemic and the groups continue to be a social activity for Mancunians.
Many of the groups focus on community cohesion and want people to spark up conversations with people they would usually never meet. Members of Manchester’s Litter Army have met people from all occupations and, from all over Greater Manchester thanks to the local groups.
The Hong Kong Volunteers in Manchester is a community action group. They are using litter picking to help people settle into life in the city - the group started earlier this year and now has over 400 members.
Andrea Chow, from Hong Kong Volunteers in Manchester, said:
“A lot of people from Hong Kong moved over to Manchester just before the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, many of us were isolated and had no way of connecting with each other or Manchester.
“Through litter picking we have been able to make a home away from home and meet lots of local people. Locals share tips with us, and we engage with them telling them about Hong Kong. It allows us to connect.”
Over the pandemic, many communities felt isolated. Litter picking has proven to be the perfect activity to bring people together and to clean up local areas.
Joe Hartley, from Moston Social Clean Ups, said:
“My main focus is on bringing the community together with action. I wanted to show respect for the area that we live in while encouraging people to meet new people from the community. Helping people respect the area and each other will always be really important to me.
“Through the litter picks we have also been able to spark up conversations between people we wouldn’t usually meet or bump into, so it’s been great for community interaction.
“It’s rewarding to see the impact is has on the local environment – seeing a cleaner space and hearing positive comments from passers-by makes it worthwhile.”
Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment, said:
“Littering is not acceptable, and we need to ensure that people stop throwing litter on our streets. That being said, I want to take this moment say a massive thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who have given up their time to make their local communities better and those who continue to litter pick. It is heart-warming to see so many people come together over the past year to put the needs of their community first.
“Manchester’s Litter Army have made such an enormous difference to local areas and parks, they have transformed areas and collectively changed public spaces. The Great British Spring Clean is the perfect opportunity for everyone to get involved and make a difference to our communities.”
For full details of all the litter picking drop-in stations, or to request equipment and support email: firstname.lastname@example.org