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.)