THANK YOU, BRITAIN!
Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up is hailed a triumph after incredible effort by army of volunteers
THE heroes and heroines of the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up were hailed last night by politicians and campaigners. A 12,000-strong army of volunteers led an unprecedented threeday drive to clear plastic pollution from our streets, beaches and green spaces. With almost 1,100 events the length and breadth of the country, many tons of plastic were removed. Much of it will now be recycled.
Schoolchildren, sports teams, Scout troops, library clubs, a Women’s Institute group and even a martial arts team joined the battle against the scourge of plastic.
Keep Britain Tidy, which helped organise the event, said it was a gamechanger. Theresa May, who joined in with a school litter pick up, offered her congratulations to the volunteers yesterday. ‘Your work means cleaner communities and a better environment for us all to share,’ she said.
‘I also want to pay tribute to the Daily Mail and Keep Britain Tidy for
their continued campaigning against plastic waste – which affects the global marine environment just as it affects our streets and parks here in Britain.’
The pick up, which started on Friday and ended last night, is part of a long-running campaign by the Mail to highlight the danger plastic rubbish poses to the environment, especially marine life.
Our Banish the Bags campaign led to the Government introducing a 5p charge per carrier – and an astonishing 85 per cent reduction in their use. This newspaper has also lobbied successfully for bans on microbeads and other single-use plastic items.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who joined a litter pick in Richmond Park, southwest London, was among those to pay tribute last night. ‘Congratulations to the Mail for what is an incredible response to a groundbreaking campaign,’ he said. ‘Together we can win the fight against plastic pollution and keep Britain tidy.’
Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: ‘The Great Plastic Pick Up has been an amazing success having captured the imagination of so many who got involved to do something about the plague of plastic litter blighting our country.
‘Inspired by the Daily Mail, this weekend thousands of people, including children from schools across the country, joined Keep Britain Tidy to get behind the campaign and litter-pick somewhere that is important to them, recycling the plastic bottles and aluminium cans they found.
‘This campaign has been a game-changer, raising awareness about the damage litter does and the full extent of the valuable but potentially toxic plastic left strewn across our communities by people who don’t care enough to look after the environment on their doorstep and beyond.’
Labour MP Mary Creagh, who chairs the cross-party environmental audit committee, said: ‘I am delighted to support the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up.
‘Every day 700,000 plastic bottles end up on our streets, which is why we need the Government to introduce a deposit return scheme. We need to turn back the plastic tide, and protect our streets, beaches and oceans.’
She had joined a litter pick in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and filled a bin bag with discarded bottles, coffee cups and fast food wrappings.
Julia Bradbury, a TV presenter and Keep Britain Tidy ambassador, described the pick up as fantastic.
In Thetford, Norfolk, 50 volunteers collected 20 bags of rubbish, including nine filled with plastic bottles, in a two-hour litter pick.
Sean Ready, 46, who collected litter using his canoe on the Little Ouse, said he had seen dead animals caught up in plastic in the river.
Frank Phillips celebrated his 75th birthday with a litter-pick at Colwyn Bay in north Wales, with his children and grandchildren.
Other volunteers organised pick ups as far north as the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, and 800 miles south in Porthkidney Sands, near St Ives in Cornwall.
TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp joined the Great Plastic Pick Up yesterday in Honiton, Devon, with her partner, property developer Ben Anderson, and their boys.
Donning the Daily Mail’s campaign T- shirts, she posted pictures on social media of their finds – including a McDonalds takeaway bag dumped more than 60 miles away from where it was bought.
Another photo showed them searching through a roadside ditch alongside the caption: ‘All sorts of stuff being dug up by the kids, including one who is taking time away from his GCSE revision.’
The tide has turned on plastic in the wake of the Mail’s campaign and distressing scenes in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II on television. The BBC documentary showed albatrosses unwittingly feeding plastic to their chicks and new-born dolphins exposed to pollutants through their mothers’ contaminated milk.
Sir David has backed the Great Plastic Pick Up.
Last night however, the Prime Minister warned more progress still had to be made on tackling the plastic menace. She told the Daily Mail: ‘The ambition in our 25-year Environment Plan is simple – to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste.
‘We’ve started by introducing a world-leading microbeads ban, as well as taking billions of plastic bags out of circulation through the carrier bag charge.
‘But there is more to do to and the Government will continue to help ensure we are the first generation to leave our environment
In the bag: Michael Gove on a pick up in London
in a better state than we found it.’
Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, praised our pick up, saying: ‘This is a welcome initiative and until we can stop litter-bugs, being part of the solution with the Great Plastic Pick Up is a heroic way to make a meaningful difference.
‘The sheer volume of plastic pollution collected all over the country will show why we have to use less plastic in the first place, and do better at recycling and re-using.’
‘We need to turn back the tide’
WHAT a truly inspiring response to the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up. over three days, 12,000 people – including Theresa May and Environment Secretary Michael Gove – cleared tons of plastic waste from beaches and beauty spots.
Across the country, volunteers joined more than 1,000 separate litter clearing events, showing the power of community action in making Britain a better place to live.
We couldn’t be more proud of our role in this tremendous project – or more grateful to the legions who made it possible.