How to organise a litterpick?

This is my checklist for our community cleanups in Leith. Remote areas are different from urban coastal locations and might require other preparations.


Make sure you have insurance cover, or team up with an organisation that has.  You can tell your volunteers that they participate  at their own risk but if any passers-by trip over one of your bags and sue you, it can be a costly lesson. We have a policy with Markel, designed for volunteer groups. It costs around £100 a year.

SIGN UP (to gather volunteers)

  • Create a mailing list. Add a “SIGN UP” button to your website and Facebook page if you have one. Make sure your collection of email addresses is GDPR compliant. This is what our form looks like.

  • Send out notification long before the event. Include health and safety instructions. (Someone might actually read it.)

  • Set up an event’s page on Facebook, share it on your other social media channels like Twitter or Instagram. Add health and safety instructions. Let people know if your location isn’t suitable for children or elderly people.

  • You can make posters for community places to promote your event. Save paper, don’t do flyers, the last thing you want to do create more litter.

PREPARATION (two weeks to one week prior to the event):

  • Get in touch with your local council. If you live in Leith drop an email to the North East Locality Team and they’ll be happy to help.

  • Tell them about your events and order equipment (litterpickers, gloves, bags, sharps boxes)

  • Agree with them about collection points where to leave the full bags to be collected.

  • Make sure you have the contact details of the task force on the day.

  • Do a risk assessment

  1. Identify hazards, i.e. anything that may cause harm.

  2. Decide who may be harmed, and how.

  3. Assess the risks and take action.

  4. Make a record of the findings.

  5. Review the risk assessment.

Here’s an example of what a risk assessment looks like.

  • Pre-visit the area to see if there’s anything that needs special attention or equipment

  • Check the weather forecast, have an emergency way to communicate with everyone in the event of a bad weather warning. If you do a beach clean, check the tidal times.


  • Be there on time.

  • Start it with health and safety instructions.

  • Distribute equipment.

  • Take a group photo at the beginning when everyone is still there.

  • Tell people where to bring the full bags.

  • If you can, offer refreshments at the end (or in the middle if it’s a longer cleanup). Free coffee, tea and biscuits work wonders in recruiting people and it’s nice to have some social time together after the hard work. (“If you feel there's something missing in your life, it's nearly always a biscuit.”)

  • Record what you collected.

  • Phone the council’s task force to remind them to collect the bags.

  • Post about your event on social media. It encourages others to participate next time.

Beware! Litterpicking is addictive but it comes with loads of benefits. And loads of rubbish too.

If you found this list useful, feel free to share it but please remember to credit us. It helps us recruit new volunteers (And thanks for reading this all the way to the bottom.)


Zsuzsa's Talk at Scotland's International Marine Conference


The Scottish Government’s #Seasthefuture event on 20-21 February 2019 focused on current national and international actions to protect the marine environment.

FM Nicola Sturgeon opened the conference then the keynote speaker Lewis Plugh told us his fascinating story what made him swim in the ice cold waters of the North Pole.

The afternoon of the first day continued with session discussions about marine litter, sound pollution, microplastic and microfibres, among others.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham opened the second day. My talk was part of the “Community Action” session. I talked about our volunteer work at Leithers Don’t Litter to encourage others that individual actions can make a difference. You can download my talk here.

We’ve heard about shocking stats, eye-opening facts, great innovations but the best part of the conference was meeting lots of like-minded people, including some amazing inspirational children and young people who’re doing a tremendous job to try and save the oceans.

Holding Back The Plastics Tide

The panelists.

The panelists.

On 5 Feb we participated at the Visions for Change: Holding back the plastics tide event hosted by University of Edinburgh Sustainability  department. With inspiring and informative talks from our fellow speakers and an incredibly engaged audience; we had a wonderful evening. 

Here are the panelists’ presentations and more information about their work.

Cal Major: has more information about her paddleboarding expedition around the Isle of Skye on her website and her campaign website and recently wrote a blog for the Department, which you can read here

The Eco Larder: find out more on their website. Find the video they played last night here.

Laura: you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under @lesswastelaura. Her presentation is here. She wrote a wonderful blog for our Department on how she achieves her "less waste" lifestyle in Edinburgh.

Leithers Don't Litter: you can find out more and join their events via their website. Their presentation (with the text of Zsuzsa’s speech) is here.

Marine Conservation Society:  the presentation is here. Find more about their work or sign up to beach cleans on their website.

The next Visions for Change event, this time focusing on palm oil, will be held on 26 February, 18:00 in the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Visual recycling guide to Leith's communal bins

One of our followers was looking for a more visual recycling guide for Edinburgh’s communal bins. We couldn't find any so we made one. Feel free to use it.

The information about Seafield Household Waste Recycling Centre and bulky items uplift are part of our Sunshine booklet we made for our Flyspotting campaign for Zero Waste Leith. You can download the booklet here.

Here’s a comprehensive list about what you can take to the household waste recycling centres. And you can find information on recycling boxes here. This is Changeworks’ handy guide on how to reduce, reuse, repair and recycle household items. If you're looking for something very specific e.g.crockery recycling visit this website.

Bonfire Amnesty Day


Announcement by Police Scotland, The City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service:

Do you have bulky items in your stairwell or communal areas that you need to get rid of?

If so, you can dispose of it, free of charge, at one of our four bulky waste containers.

The containers will be on site at the following locations on Friday 2 November 2018 - 9am-3pm

  • Cables Wynd House

  • The Quilts (end of West Bowling Green Street)

  • Loganlea Play Park, Loganlea Avenue

  • Niddrie Marischal Crescent

Leith Market Sustainability Day

Yesterday we had a stall at Leith Market’s Sustainability Day to launch our Pukemons campaign.

The Pukemons (from left to right): Boaki, Yukki, Ikki, Sicki and Slimi

The Pukemons (from left to right): Boaki, Yukki, Ikki, Sicki and Slimi

We also handed out Poo Fighters badges to promote responsible dog ownership (i.e. picking up and binning their dog’s poo).

One of our four-legged supporters proudly wearing the Poo Fighters badge.

One of our four-legged supporters proudly wearing the Poo Fighters badge.

We also promoted our Adopt A Street programme and gave away Sunshine booklets from our Flyspotting campaign.


100 things you can do to save the planet

100 things you can do to save the planet

In the last few days you've probably heard the alarming reports in the news about climate change and that we have only 12 years left to fix it.

It can all make us feel overwhelmed and helpless so it's time to re-post this list we wrote two years ago with 100 things you can do to help instead of just posting sad face emojis.