More than 60 tonnes of litter collected by volunteers in Leeds in past year

More than 60 tonnes of litter has been collected by volunteers in Leeds in the past year.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:45 pm

The Litter Free Leeds movement, in partnership with Leeds City Council, has seen volunteers, businesses and organisations join forces to remove tonnes of rubbish and waste from areas of the city.

The movement has grown hugely over the last 12 months as individuals and groups have taken to litter picking on their walks in lockdown.

It has been calculated that over 60 tonnes of litter has been collected by the 3,000 volunteers so far in 2021.

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Litter Free Leeds has seen volunteers, businesses and organisations join forces to remove tonnes of rubbish and waste from areas of the city.

Much of this litter has been hidden in hedgerows for years with volunteers finding crisp packets dating back decades.

Litter Free Leeds is now organising a ‘Leeds Goes Purple’ day on Saturday July 3 to mark and help celebrate the contributions being made across the city .

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Volunteers will be out on their streets and local green spaces armed with litter grabbers and purple bags to mark the special day of action.

Sandra McLean, Litter Free Leeds, said: “Litter Free Leeds was born from a meeting of like-minded volunteers back in 2017.

"A social media account and then a website was set up and gradually built up the movement as we shared photos and stories of our litter picking adventures and achievements.

"However, the pandemic has been the catalyst for an extraordinary rise in volunteers wanting to know how they can get the purple bags and safely litter pick on their socially distanced walks and daily exercise.

"We went from having 500 members on our Facebook page to over 3000 in the space of less than a year.

"Our members share their stories and photos, and it has become a supportive community of Leeds people all wanting to do their bit where they live and help make Leeds the beautiful city it is.

"Many have found it a huge help during lockdown in dealing with feelings of isolation and mental health issues.

She added: "This first Leeds Goes Purple day is a way to highlight and celebrate the extraordinary efforts of so many across the city and to spread the word to anyone new wanting to join in.

"Ultimately of course we don’t want to have any litter to pick.

"We hope that Litter Free Leeds can play a big part in changing the behaviour of those who litter so that it becomes the social norm for everyone to dispose of their waste and litter responsibly.

"Every bag counts so please join us on our big day.”

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council's executive member for environment and housing, said: “The council has always been keen to support community clean ups and local litter groups, with many councillors across the city either actively involved or helping find some local funding to help with equipment and hi-viz.

"The Litter Free Leeds movement has taken that to another level during the last year in particular.

“Working with the support of the council, literally thousands of people have been deep cleaning their neighbourhoods and green spaces as they go about their daily walks or undertake socially distanced exercise.

"I am incredibly grateful for all these efforts and the work of Sandra and the network of group organisers and bag holders involved in Litter Free Leeds activities across the city.

"To commemorate the first ‘Leeds Goes Purple’ day we asked Litter Free Leeds what they would like from us to help them and so have purchased several hundred litter grabbers, adult and child sizes for them to loan out to volunteers.

"Our cleaner neighbourhood teams are working hard to keep up with the hundreds of purple bags being filled each week and left by litter bins for collection and I would like to thank those staff too.”

To find out more about the Litter Free Leeds movement and to get involved, search for their social media pages or visit their website at: www.litterfreeleeds.co.uk