Thousands join Theresa May on the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up
Day One! Thousands of children across Britain – from Iverness to Hemel Hempstead – join Theresa May on the Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up
- Schools around the country marked launch of Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up
- Prime Minister Theresa May also helped with the clean-up on the opening day
- She recorded a special message, urging people to get behind the campaign
Equipped with gloves and sacks, an army of children joined the nation’s battle against plastic pollution yesterday.
Schools up and down the country – including this primary in east London – signed up to the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up.
More than 1,000 events have been scheduled around Britain for the three-day drive to clean up our streets and green spaces.
From Truro in Cornwall to Thurso in northern Scotland, sea cadets, rugby clubs and pubs are mucking in among 13,000 registered volunteers.
After joining a school litter pick up yesterday, Theresa May said: ‘It was so encouraging to see how passionate these young people are about their environment.
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Joining a school litter pick up yesterday, Theresa May said: ‘It was so encouraging to see how passionate these young people are about their environment
The Prime Minister wears a pair of gloves as she takes part in the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up
‘Thanks to the Mail and Keep Britain Tidy, thousands of people will be out at events like this, making a real difference by collecting plastic from streets, parks and public spaces.
‘We all have a part to play to tackle the scourge of plastic waste, which is not only having an impact in our towns and countryside but is also clogging up our oceans.’
The pick up, which ends tomorrow, has been praised by leading conservationists and campaigners.
The Daily Mail has been at the forefront of efforts to highlight the menace of plastic rubbish – and in particular the danger it poses to marine life.
This newspaper’s campaign has already resulted in the introduction of a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, a ban on microbeads and a series of other Government pledges to reduce our reliance on plastic products.
Mrs May had joined pupils in her Maidenhead constituency to help get the Great Plastic Pick Up off to a fast start.
With sleeves rolled up, a pair of Marigolds on, a refuse bag in her left hand and a litter picker in her right, Mrs May mucked in as the group cleared litter from a playing field.
Year two pupils Abdul-Malik and Joshua take part in the Great Plastic Pick-up campaign helping to collect litter from the local area surrounding their school, St.Luke’s Primary and Nursery School, Newham, east London
The pick up, which ends tomorrow, has been praised by leading conservationists and campaigners. Pictured: Schoolchildren from Alsager Highfields Primary School help out on the pick-up
We’re on the match! Pupils at St Luke’s primary school in Canning Town, east London, join the great pick up yesterday
She declared: ‘I was delighted to join children at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School for the Great Plastic Pick Up.’
Allison Ogden-Newton of Keep Britain Tidy joined the Prime Minister and said: ‘We had an interesting conversation about what you can and can’t recycle.
‘She was very knowledgeable and aware that it’s quite complicated and must be made easier for people to understand.
‘It’s great to have the support of the Prime Minister who shares our sense that it is the right time to do something about plastic.’
St Mary’s banned single-use plastic in autumn last year after pupils were inspired by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which helped draw attention to the perils of plastic.
Sir David has backed the Mail’s Plastic Pick Up events.
Jayden Taylor, 11, is part of the St Mary’s eco council, which comprises 22 pupils who encourage classmates to be green – walking to school when they can and policing the ban on single-use plastic.
‘If someone comes in with a single-use bottle or something they quickly get told it’s not allowed,’ he said.
Among other children doing their bit was Iris Appleton, six, of Holy Cross Primary School in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, who took part in her school’s litter-pick yesterday.
She said she wanted to help because she was worried about plastic ‘going into the sea and killing the animals’.
Mrs May had joined pupils in her Maidenhead constituency to help get the Great Plastic Pick Up off to a fast start
Year four Eco Warriors from Westerhope Primary School in Newcastle upon Tyne taking part in the Daily Mail Great Plastic Pick Up
Mrs May had joined pupils in her Maidenhead constituency to help get the Great Plastic Pick Up off to a fast start
With sleeves rolled up, a pair of Marigolds on, a refuse bag in her left hand and a litter picker in her right, Mrs May mucked in as the group cleared litter from a playing field
She added: ‘The animals are dying – they are getting trapped and swallowing the plastic.’
The PM’s example was praised yesterday by Environment Secretary Michael Gove. He said: ‘I commend the Daily Mail and Keep Britain Tidy on their Great Plastic Pick Up to turn the tide on plastic.
‘Litter is a blight on society and chokes our rivers, marine environment and wildlife. It is only through government, businesses, and the public working together that we will tackle plastic waste and safeguard our environment for the next generation.
‘I encourage everyone who can to spare a few hours and make a real difference in their community.’
Keep Britain Tidy Ambassador and naturalist Chris Packham added: ‘This weekend will see thousands of people clearing tons of plastic from our environment and every piece picked up is one less piece of plastic that can find its way into our rivers and oceans. Plastic litter is a menace, particularly by our roads, where it is killing our wildlife on a daily basis, thanks to those motorists who thoughtlessly toss their rubbish out of their cars.’
He was joined by fellow Keep Britain Tidy ambassador and TV presenter Julia Bradbury who said: ‘When you’re out enjoying our beautiful country – even in the remotest places – you see the impact of plastic litter on our environment. The Great Plastic Pick Up is a fantastic opportunity for us to start to rid our countryside and our beaches of this menace.
This newspaper’s campaign has already resulted in the introduction of a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, a ban on microbeads and a series of other Government pledges to reduce our reliance on plastic products
MP Fiona Bruce with Isabella Munn, seven, and Millie Dyde, seven, on the pick-up in Alsager, Cheshire
Pupils of Seaton Sluice Middle School in Northumberland take part in the Daily Mails Great Plastic Pickup on the beach near their school
‘I really hope that, this weekend, people across the country will do what they can to help us turn the tide on plastic and keep Britain tidy.’
The Mail’s campaign was also praised by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday, who said: ‘The Great Plastic Pick Up is a brilliant example of how communities across the UK can come together to keep our streets, green spaces and beaches clean.’
The Bishop of Dudley, Graham Usher, who has championed campaigns to cut the Church of England’s use of plastic including giving up plastic for Lent, also praised the initiative yesterday.
‘The Church of England has been actively encouraging awareness of the plastic problem, with initiatives such as the plastic-less Lent and many congregations pledging to go “plastic free”,’ he said.
‘I want to say well done to everyone taking part in the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up, cleaning up our environment, keeping the issue prominent and helping to care for God’s creation.’
We kids are much better at looking after the planet… can’t grown-ups just do the same?
By Jane Fryer
Shreya is seven years old. She loves acting, is a keen gardener, wants to be a vet when she grows up, adores Meghan Markle and will be glued to the television for the Royal Wedding next Saturday.
She is also the self-appointed ‘number one eco warrior’ at St Luke’s Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary and Nursery School in east London.
‘Mostly I tell people to recycle – put the food waste in the compost and put the plastics in the right bins,’ she says. ‘But some get it muddled. Or they don’t bother and put all the milk cartons and raisin packets in with the plastics, and that really annoys me!’
Of course it does. But unlike most of us, Shreya doesn’t just huff and puff, she just patiently sorts it all out, putting everything back in the right bins. And not just at school. ‘I’ll always pick stuff up on the street and put it in the bin,’ she says. ‘Because if our world is covered in paper and plastic, for one thing it will look horrible and you could slip, but worse, plastics don’t rot. They’re here forever. Longer than me, even!’
In the bag! Pupils from St Luke’s primary and nursery school with the haul of litter they collected yesterday
Year two pupils Esther, Yorshalaim and Chizaram take part in the Great Plastic Pick-up campaign helping to collect litter from the local area surrounding their school, St.Luke’s Primary and Nursery School, Newham
Yesterday, Shreya and 30 of her school mates were among the first to join in the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up.
Aged from six to ten, they were armed with black bin bags almost as big as some of them, white rubber gloves, special picker-sticks to grab the nastiest items, a lot of excited giggling and a lovely big dollop of eco-indignation.
‘It makes me annoyed,’ says Vicky, ten. ‘People drop rubbish for other people to pick up. And it’s not fair on the animals – they don’t drop litter, do they?’ Within seconds they are pouncing on Coke bottles, Red Bull cans, plastic cups, crisp packets, a discarded mascara brush and endless bags of dog poo. And letting rip on the litter bugs.
‘The people who left this must be very lazy if they can’t be bothered to put it in the bin,’ says Yoma, seven.
‘Maybe they couldn’t find a bin. Or couldn’t be bothered to look for one,’ says Gabriel, six.
‘Well, they clearly don’t think about animals and the planet,’ says Ola, eight. ‘They just think about themselves. Animals don’t make a mess – why should they have to put up with our mess?’
‘The planet is going to get messier and messier each day and soon there’ll be plastic everywhere,’ adds Shreya.
It must be frustrating to be a seven-year-old, to know how best to protect your planet and then have to sit back and watch as the grown-ups mess it all up. Because sadly, it seems, things are rather less green at home, however much they pester their parents. ‘My mum says “Okaaaay, I’ll do it later”,’ says Sariah, nine. ‘I think kids are better.’
Year 2 pupil Khadijah takes part in the Great Plastic Pick-up campaign helping to collect litter from the local area surrounding their school in Newham
‘My big sister is the worst,’ says Shreya. ‘She’s always throwing things on the floor. She’s 13 – she should know better! But my whole family doesn’t have a recycling bin – I’ve been begging for one, but we live in a flat and my mum says there’s no room.’ Even worse are the litter louts who throw stuff from their cars. ‘When people throw litter from their cars into the road, they’re making an example to other people. These are grown-ups!’ says Shreya. ‘And it makes me frustrated because I can’t even pick it up because I’m not allowed to go in the road!’
Fortunately though, like Shreya, they’re all happy to clean up after their elders, particularly if it means they get a run in the sun when usually they’d be doing English.
They’re having a brilliant time – fighting over squashed lager cans, bickering over crisp packets and chicken and chips boxes and chattering about the Royal Wedding.
‘Meghan’s basically an actress, that means she’ll lose her job which worries me,’ says Shreya. ‘But I’m a big fan and I love the Queen – we even have the same birthday – so I’ll definitely watch the wedding on television though I’m not sure our headmaster Mr Hipperson will be watching it.
‘He says he’s very upset. I don’t know why.’
‘I think maybe he liked Meghan himself!’ says Helen, nine. But they all agree that the Daily Mail’s Big Plastic Pick Up is a great idea – not just to make everything look just so for Harry’s nuptials, but to help the planet, too.
Because underneath the excitement of finding a two-litre lemonade bottle or a discarded remote control for their bulging bags, they all have anxieties about the impact of all this plastic on the planet, many fuelled by the heartbreaking scenes of whales choking on plastic and turtles strangled by plastic waste in Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II documentary.
Year two pupils Eva, Khadija, Yorshalaim and Chizaram take part in the Great Plastic Pick-up
Year 2 pupil Yorshalaim takes part in the Great Plastic Pick-up campaign helping to collect litter around St Luke’s school in Newham
Helen worries most about the plastic binding that holds cans together. ‘I’m really strict about that,’ she says.
‘I tell everyone to break them up or chop them up before they put them in the bin because otherwise they go off in a lorry to a dump where lots of seagulls go and the big bits of plastic could trap them and kill them. And if they get into the sea and a turtle gets tangled in them it could really harm them.’
Ola is most concerned about the planet’s marine life. ‘I worry about whales and dolphins. They don’t do anything bad and they only eat small animals and they don’t notice that they’re eating plastic, too. It will end up killing them and the beaches will be covered in dead whales and dolphins.’
No wonder they’re worried. At the rate we’re polluting the planet – each year we dump at least eight million tonnes of plastic in our oceans – by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
It is Sariah who points out that if the fish eat the tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean and we eat them, then we’re all eating plastic, too. They know their stuff but they’ve got their work cut out.
In 2016, the last year for which figures are available, Britons bought products swathed in a staggering 1,119,000 tonnes of plastic waste, of which less than half was collected for recycling. The rest was littered, landfilled, burned or washed up in the sea.
Given the scale of the task, it’s a wonder they’re all so jolly. But they are and spirits are so high in Canning Town that a lady walking by asks if they’re enjoying their school trip. ‘It’s a litter pick!’ they all shout. ‘We’re cleaning the planet! Someone’s got to!’
Even so, they’re a bit nonplussed by the number of plastic water bottles – most of this lot drink from the school fountain – and the carpet of cigarette ends.
St Luke’s – rated outstanding by Ofsted – whose 240 pupils speak more than 30 languages, is a fantastically eco-aware school. It has its own eco-garden growing apples and potatoes with composting and mulching, more recycling bins than I’ve ever seen and an eco-group responsible for encouraging recycling. It goes without saying that Shreya is a committed member.
This isn’t the school’s first litter pick. Their last, done in superhero costumes, threw up some unexpected treasures including a tent covered in snails, a car door and loads of chewing gum with ants stuck to it (‘yuk’ says Sariah). Today’s haul proves just as eclectic. As well as the usual detritus, the children find silver canisters that once contained laughing gas (‘They’re really meant for the dentist,’ explains Dean, the school’s eco co-ordinator, diplomatically), and an entire double divan, complete with two mattresses. ‘That’s a very silly thing to do, really naughty,’ says Shreya. ‘Shall we call the police?’
But what surprises them most is that, barely six weeks since they last picked litter in exactly the same place, they fill eight black sacks – some so full and bulging they can barely carry them – in less than an hour.
St Luke’s school pupil Maxwell dons gloves as he takes part in the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up
Litter picking with this group of six to ten-year-olds is a humbling experience. They don’t understand why people drop litter in the first place. They worry about the impact on the environment, the animals, the marine life and the planet. They think adults are terrible role models but are still happy to pick up our rubbish.
No wonder they worry about the future, but at least they’re prepared to do something about it.
At the end, I ask the million-dollar question – have any of them ever dropped anything, a scrap of litter, a bottle, a sweet wrapper even? They look genuinely shocked. ‘No!’ squeaks Helen. ‘No way!’ says Ola. ‘Never,’ says Shreya. ‘I mostly just put it in my pocket until I find a recycling bin.’
Across the UK, children’s army launches this weekend’s great clean-up
WE FILLED 18 BAGS OF LITTER IN 30 MINUTES!
Jupiter Community free school, Hemel Hempstead
Armed with litter-grabbers, a group of 36 year three pupils found scores of crisp packets, plastic bottles, wrappers and more then 20 cigarette butts within a hundred yards of their school
Armed with litter-grabbers, a group of 36 year three pupils found scores of crisp packets, plastic bottles, wrappers and more then 20 cigarette butts within a hundred yards of their school.
They filled seven recycling bags and 11 bin bags in just half an hour, while 180 children aged between four and seven scoured their school field for more plastic waste.
Lulu, eight, was surprised at how much litter she had found just outside the school grounds. ‘it would be a good idea if we picked up litter every Friday. Then there wouldn’t be very much at all,’ she said.
Lacey-Marie, also eight, added: ‘Plastic doesn’t ever go away so it’s important people don’t just throw it on the ground.’
Year one teacher Katie Gillingham said: ‘Some members of the public were thanking the children and I think the children got a real boost out of it.’
PUPILS LOVE OUR BEACH – SO WE GAVE IT A CLEAN
Pebsham Primary Academy, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex
Life at Pebsham Primary revolves around the beach that’s five minutes away, with lessons often taking place there.
Yesterday the entire school of 200 children, aged four to 11, went out on to it to collect litter and filled 12 bags – including three entirely of plastic.
Deputy headmaster Julian Wood said: ‘Being part of the Daily Mail campaign has given us the ideal opportunity for the children to see their actions as part of this brilliant nationwide campaign. On plastic, the kids are leading the adults.’
On the right path: Chaucer Junior school pupils enjoy their rubbish pick up
PICK-UP BROUGHT OUR LESSONS TO LIFE
Keelby Primary Academy, Grimsby
Teacher Helen White said: ‘This presented an ideal opportunity to make a difference right on our own doorstep.’
The whole school got involved – 28 members of staff and 186 pupils cleaned up an impressive 20 bags full of litter.
Helen says: ‘The children treated it like a treasure hunt. We were all surprised by how much rubbish we found in our outwardly tidy village. Doing the Great Plastic Pick Up made us feel as if we were an important part of a much wider project. It brought our lessons to life.’
Pupil Francesca, ten, said: ‘Our village is very disgusting and not clean. People that use things should put them in the bin.’
Fight them on the beaches: Krish Duggal adds more litter to his bag
400 PUPILS CLEANED UP 30 BAGS OF WASTE
Westerhope Primary School, Newcastle
400 children and 50 staff were scattered around Newcastle-upon-Tyne in groups yesterday to pick up litter on the school grounds, its garden and the local community.
Teacher Matthew Outson said: ‘We had the youngest children helping to clear the school garden and the older children were escorted out into the community.
‘The children were shocked at how much plastic gets caught in the wind and sticks to the bushes, and at the weird and wonderful array of things people just leave lying around for others to clear up – we picked up a huge plastic paint tub, a child’s-size shopping trolley, a scaffolding pole and a whole load of plastic plant pots. In total we managed to collect around 30 bags – ten of plastic bottles.’
400 children and 50 staff were scattered around Newcastle-upon-Tyne in groups yesterday to pick up litter on the school grounds, its garden and the local community in Westerhope Primary School
Fill it up: Alsager Highfields Primary School pupils collect rubbish
WE’RE SAVING CRABS… AND SEALS
Seaton Sluice Middle School, Tyneside
A biting wind whipped in from the North Sea but it could do nothing to deter the 49 plastic pickers, aged ten and 11, from their labours on the beach opposite the school.
Pupil Reece, 11, said: ‘I found a crab that was tangled up in a rubber band. I quickly untangled it but it was too late, he was already dead. Maybe people don’t think crabs are important when they throw rubbish down on the beach but they are. All life in the sea is important.’ Friend Cameron, ten, added: ‘We see all kinds of animals like seals and dolphins. If we can see the damage that’s being done to animals, why can’t adults? The creatures in the sea have been here longer than we have, they deserve to be protected.’
Pupils of Seaton Sluice Middle School in Northumberland prepare to take part in the Daily Mails Great Plastic Pickup on the beach near their school
DON’T ADULTS KNOW NOT TO LITTER?
Goose Green Primary School, East Dulwich, London
A group of 15 children set out to clear the area around their school. Teacher Wendy Simpson said: ‘Our school backs on to a main road and our wildlife garden is always full of all sorts of litter passers-by throw over our fence.
‘The aim was not just clearing the rubbish and separating plastic, but to give the children the opportunity to tell other people how important it is to keep the country and the oceans clean and tidy.’
The children collected four big bags of rubbish. ‘They were very disappointed to see that so much of the litter like cigarette butts and beer cans had been left by adults,’ said Wendy.
WE FOUND A SCRATCH CARD!
The Centre at The Northumberland Church of England Academy Ashington, Northumberland
Dawn Watson, a teacher at the specialist school for children with learning difficulties, led 100 pupils and staff from the primary and secondary departments on litter picks throughout the day.
The school managed to collect six bags of litter, with a few notable finds: One class found a bike saddle; Ethan, 15, found a broken plasma TV; and Aaron, 15, found a scratch card which he hopes might be a winning ticket.
One of the team: A girl from The Centre
PUPILS BEGGING TO DO IT AGAIN
Quilters Infants school, Billericay, Essex
Learning support assistant Helen Bozza and deputy head Lydia Knight took 15 pupils aged five to seven to a public park area next to the school.
Helen said: ‘The children loved using the litter pickers – like bionic arms! The highlight of the day was finding an old pull-along suitcase packed with bottles and, bizarrely, a light fitting.’ The team filled four bags with rubbish, three of them with plastic. ‘The children said they’d loved it, and begged me to take them out again,’ said Helen.
PEOPLE ARE TOO LAZY TO FIND A BIN
Holy Cross Primary School, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands
Children from Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield
Vice principal Katrina Crowley said: ‘We are astonished by the amount of litter we have collected – ten bags of general waste, three bags of metal waste and eight of plastic in a small area behind the school.’
Finbarr, nine, said: ‘In nice places like this there is always lots of litter around. It upsets me – especially as some people just throw it away because they are too lazy to find a bin.’ Iris, six, added: ‘The sea animals are dying. They are getting trapped and swallowing the plastic.’
ON AN ISLAND – BUT WE FILLED A TRUCK
Sgoil Bhreascleit, Lewis, Outer Hebrides
This primary may be on the tiny island of Lewis (population 18,500) but it managed to fill a truck of waste. Teacher Catherine Ann Campbell led 30 parents and children on a pick-up that lasted three hours. She said: ‘We found plastic bottles, cans, food wrappers and agricultural waste.’
Jupiter Community Free school pupils take a brief rest
It’s a breeze: Pupils from Prebsham Primary Academy in Bexhill-on-Sea on the beach picking up litter
ANYONE CAN DO THEIR BIT
Shorefields School, Clacton, Essex
Leah Smith, a teaching assistant at the special needs school, said: ‘Our students range from age five to 19 and have varying needs – some are in wheelchairs – but were all very excited about doing their bit for the beach area we love so much.
‘The number of plastic bottles was never-ending.’ In two hours the school collected six bags.
Reports by Louise Atkinson
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