Leeds man's inspirational campaign to rid the world of litter

A Leeds man's crusade to rid the streets of litter has taken social media by storm across the world since it first began one afternoon in Roundhay Park.

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Monday, 8th March 2021, 11:26 pm

Eddie Platt, 42, started #1pieceofrubbish in 2015 when he picked up a can of coke in the north Leeds park and posted a selfie stating his habit from now on would be to pick up one piece of litter a day.

That got 1,000 likes and before long, people were doing the same and tagging him in their posts.

The former Allerton Grange and Roundhay School pupil said: "I was like 'what's going on? It wasn't a challenge?' I didn't think people would do it - but the movement started there."

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The 42-year-old returned to Marseille in France, where he had been teaching English since 2011, and set up the website www.onepieceofrubbish.com.

He now has over 24,000 followers on Facebook and says he reaches 170,000 people a month with his litter-picking posts and messages.

On Instagram, where he has nearly 13,000 followers, users have tagged his campaign over 27,000 times from all over the world.

Eddie has also visited 60 schools in four-and-a-half years to spread the word about his mission and a recent clean-up operation in Marseille attracted 750 people.

Eddie Platt, 42, of Leeds, who is campaigning for people to pick up #onepieceofrubbish every day

Acknowledging it is all "quite an achievement", he said: "I kind of realised once I picked that first piece of trash up, it was everywhere. I drove to Hyde Park and people had just left their picnics and barbecues. We have students who are intelligent leaving stuff behind them.

"I used to be a smoker so I must have chucked 10,000 cigarettes on the floor, easy. One cigarette pollutes 500 litres of water. In Paris, every day, 10m cigarettes are chucked on the floor.

"One single plastic bottle degrades into 10,000 pieces. A bottle of coke, a bottle of water, each one degrades and the fish eat it.

"We have to take care and we have to start right now.

Eddie Platt, who is campaigning for people to pick up one piece of rubbish a day.

"It's just so easy. You can use a bin - there's no excuse. It's just laziness."

In 2017, Eddie took his quest to the streets of France, hitchhiking 8,000km in 90 days, sponsored by French supermarket chain Carrefour.

During his trip - which he filmed on YouTube, calling himself 'L'escargot Anglais - The English Snail' - he held six organised clean-ups and spoke at Carrefour stores about plastic pollution.

He said: "People would say 'Come to Lille, it's dirty', 'Come to Biarritz, there's so much trash on the floor'. I thought, 'well I like hitchhiking' - my dad hitchhiked across France in 1958 and I've always loved it.

Some of the 750 people who helped on a recent clean-up day in Marseille for the #onepieceofrubbish campaign.

"I was called the English Snail. I left on June 28 and finished on October 1. I slept in 49 different places. I had my hammock or people would invite me into their houses.

"It was amazing. It was a real human trip of generosity, kindness, fun, spontaneity. And I picked up around two million pieces of trash."

Eddie also features in an award-winning French documentary called Le Grand Saphir - now with English subtitles - which tells the story of seven litter-pickers in France who have a fun approach to protecting the planet.

He said: "I'd like to do a big call-out to everyone to watch this video - while everyone is at home. It's an amazing film. It's 52 minutes long."

For now, Eddie - who is currently stuck in Leeds after a four-day visit to his mum's in Roundhay coincided with the coronavirus lockdown - is editing a book on his 8,000km hitchhike and continuing his #1pieceofrubbish campaign, picking up litter during his daily exercise allowance.

He said: "This is a critical moment in human hygiene. There are bins everywhere and if there isn't, there's your car, your pocket. There's no excuse. I can't see why people are still throwing trash on the floor. It's now or never."

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