How To Be a Group and Yet Still “Do Your Own Thing”

So you want to make the area where you live cleaner and free of litter.  There is a local environmental group that does litter picking or maybe you and a few of your friends, colleagues and neighbours want to start a group of your own.  The problem is when?  No one can seem to find a day in their Diary that suits all.  The hectic lives we all lead; work, children’s taxi service, elderly parents, social life (what social life, haven’t got time for one of those I hear you say!), housework, the list is endless.  But you’d still like to do something.  How can this be done?  Easy!!  Civic Pride up in Rawtenstall, Lancashire is a voluntary group who go out and maintain neglected public gardens but, primarily, we are a litter picking organisation.

The problem of people wanting to join in and just do a bit but being unable to join our ‘official’ Civic Pride sessions on a Wednesday evening or Sunday morning was a constant barrier to these enthusiastic people being able to offer their services.  Not any longer – we now have something we have christened the ‘Lone Ranger’ club.  Each volunteer is issued with their very own litter-picker, brand spanking new pair of gloves, a really sexy, fashionable hi-viz vest and a supply of litter bags.  What do they do next?  Go pick litter folks!  These amazing people just take their kit for a walk (sometimes they also take a partner or child and probably the dog).  Armed with their equipment they then collect litter as they take their constitutional healthy walk.  At the end of the time they have allocated for this past-time they then leave their haul in a visible place near another litter bin which the local council will be emptying at some time in the future.

Now, here comes the clever bit…

One of these ‘Lone Ranger’s’ found a blog site on the web called ‘QuickTopic’.  Once QT is set up the individuals’ then post on the site where they have collected their litter from and any other information they feel like passing on.  “Weather rubbish but found a great grot-spot’ near the Dog & Duck.  3 bags of litter been left near the litter bin by the side of the Cemetery Gates.  If anyone is passing Frog Lane I saw this was in need of some TLC…” 

By using the ‘QuickTopic’ site folk are in touch with each other.  The “Loneliness of the Long Distance Litter Picker” (please excuse the dreadful misuse of the title of a wonderful film).  It gets even better; the Refuse Collection Department of our local council are also linked into QuickTopic – they get constant updates as to where they will find the full bags – hey presto: Do it when you feel like it, know that you are part of a group, get your local council onside and the system works like a dream.

Since this new concept came into being within Civic Pride earlier this year the difference in the amount of litter around is remarkable.  The ‘Broken Window Theory’ in action!  Sometimes we get postings which will say “went out this morning to pick some litter and didn’t manage to find enough to fill one bag – how disappointing, I was really looking forward to at least a two bag session!”

Give it a try in your neck of the woods and see how you go on.  One word of warning.  In Civic Pride we called in the services of our local Police Constabulary Support Officer (PCSO) who came and gave some advice on how to handle potential confrontations and what to do in case of an emergency.  We also have some printed Health & Safety Handbooks and some Risk Assessment sheets which are provided to the ‘Lone Rangers’.  No one has yet needed any as we are all sensible adults with our own, highly developed, sense of self preservation and a good old fashioned helping of Common Sense.

Hope it works for you.


Civic Pride Rossendale

email:  civic.pride.rossendale@gmail



1 comment

  1. This is exactly how Crewe Clean Team does it. We’ve held communal, monthly litter picks since we started in January 2012 but our members keep their equipment once they have attended twice. (this has the added bonus that we don’t need to carry as much basic kit to each pick as members bring their own – we can bring brushes, dustpans, rakes, etc.) The plan was always to establish ‘cells’ of litter pickers around Crewe who would be more flexible than a larger group. Of course, individuals can and do litter pick alone whenever they want. We have public liability insurance for the group as well as personal accident cover for our members. One of our members works for the council and advises us on fly-tips and organises the removal of any rubbish. Our ties with the council are close – they have borrowed equipment from us in the past when faced with several litter picks across the county.

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