EDUCATION is key to tackling the region’s litter menace, an award-winning campaigner said.
Julie Hepworth founded the Pride in Pickering group in 2006, after becoming dismayed at the amount of litter being dropped in the North Yorkshire market town while serving as mayor.
What started as a monthly pick soon grew, and turned into a campaign educating school children and community groups and even commissioning a song on the topic.
In 2013, she won the CPRE’s Marsh Award for a Beautiful and Litter-Free Countryside in recognition of her work.
She said: “We need to open minds - education is key. Let’s get people to stop dropping litter rather than picking up after them.
“There have been some improvements but campaigns like Clean Up Yorkshire are still needed. I don’t think we’ll ever be redundant but education works. The nursery children we spoke to a few years ago are now growing up, the message that littering is wrong needs to continue.”
Backing the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign, Mrs Hepworth, who is a member of the CPRE Ryedale branch, said: “All you need to do to get started is get some pickers, some bags and some rubber gloves and just do it.”
Mrs Hepworth has now passed over coordination of the group to town councillor Stephen Jenson, who arranges a monthly litter pick with around six to ten people volunteering to help.
Last year the group collected 74 bags of rubbish in nine months.
Coun Jenson said: “Bottles and cans are the most commonly dropped bigger items, but people don’t appreciate that even cigarette ends are litter.
“If you don’t take pride in your area, it can deteriorate. If you constantly keep on top of litter, we find that less gets dropped.”
Pride in Pickering will be holding a Clean Up Yorkshire litter pick on Saturday June 13. Anyone wishing to join can meet at the Eastgate carpark at 10am.