Clean Up Yorkshire: Why educating our children is key to stopping Yorkshire’s litter blight

Children at Otley Street Nursery School in Skipton, which is supporting the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign.
Children at Otley Street Nursery School in Skipton, which is supporting the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign.
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EMBEDDING an anti-littering ethos into children while they are young is key to solving Yorkshire’s litter problem - and we want schools to get involved and help us to Clean Up Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire Post launched the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign on Saturday after revealing the region’s local authorities spent £77.1m on street cleansing in 2013/14 - up from £68.7m in 2008/09.

In partnership with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), we are encouraging schools to organise clean up events throughout June, and let us know how much litter is collected.

The CPRE’s LitterAction.org.uk website includes a pack for primary schools and information for secondary schools, such as advice on assemblies and lesson ideas.

Stop the Drop campaign manager for the CPRE, Samantha Harding, said ingraining the message that littering was wrong while children are young was key.

“Littering is very much a societal thing. In countries like Australia, which was a strong anti-littering ethos, it is simply something you do not do,” she said.

Bankside Primary School in Leeds is supporting the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign.''Pictured are some of the school's Magpies: Safa Ahmed, 9, Hafsa Ali, 10, Shemya Hanley, 11, Kienna Clarke, 11, Musmtak Ahmed, 11, and Arbab Hussain, 11.''''Picture James Hardisty

Bankside Primary School in Leeds is supporting the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign.''Pictured are some of the school's Magpies: Safa Ahmed, 9, Hafsa Ali, 10, Shemya Hanley, 11, Kienna Clarke, 11, Musmtak Ahmed, 11, and Arbab Hussain, 11.''''Picture James Hardisty

“Yorkshire is spending £77m a year cleaning up - this figure needs to drop and it will take societal change to do that.”

But while in some senses young children and ‘tweens’ were easy to encourage, she said keeping them focussed on not littering once they have become teenagers that is the real challenge.

She said: “Peer pressure, hormones and access to their own money so they can buy what they like, such as energy drinks and chips after school, means that the rate of littering in that age range will increase considerably.”

One school leading the way is Bankside Primary School in Harehills, Leeds. It has ran various activities to encourage pupils to have pride and responsibility over their area, including a Magpie scheme where children have to apply for and are interviewed to become litter pickers, working with the schools caretaking team.

Children were also involved in a community clean up where pupils went out into the streets surrounding the schools to pick up litter, with the support of Leeds Council and the Environment Agency. They were even able to see enforcement in action when the officer discovered bags of rubbish that had been illegally fly-tipped and was able to identify the culprit and issue an on the spot fine.

Assistant head teacher Kauser Jan said: “During the clean up, parents started coming out of their houses with bags and sweeping brushes and joining in, it was fantastic.

“But our efforts are much more than one day. We now have 25 Magpies, who take great pride in going about school and looking after our community.

“If you want to make a impact on children, it has to be something that is sustainable, and that is what we have created at Bankside.”

Bankside’s Magpies will be keeping track of how much litter they collect throughout June for the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign.

Also collecting will be Otley Street Nursery School in Skipton.

It has recently been awarded a Green award from Keep Britain Tidy Eco-Schools programme for the efforts it is making to teach the children about environmental issues, including ensuring every one of its 70 pupils has the opportunity to take part in a litter pick, and learn about what can be recycled.

Teacher Christina Birtley said: “We want to reinforce the message while they are young, to care for our world. It’s good for them to feel part of their community and see they can make a difference.”

TELL US YOUR STORIES...

FROM NURSERIES to colleges, we want to hear from schools and educational establishments for all ages for the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign.

Whether you are organising a day of action or counting up how much you collect throughout June, get in touch. Email hannah.start@ypn.co.uk or tweet using the hashtag #CleanUpYorks

Whether you are organising a day of action or counting up how much you collect throughout June, get in touch. Email hannah.start@ypn.co.uk or tweet using the hashtag #CleanUpYorks

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