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The costly litter issue of summertime picnics and BBQs

The costly litter issue of summertime picnics and BBQs

As we enjoy the warm summer months, we gather up picnic blankets and cool bags and head outdoors for some al fresco dining. And whether that’s sandwiches and ice creams in one of Britain’s parks or an impromptu BBQ along a beach somewhere, we all have a responsibility to leave our parks and countryside exactly how we found it to minimise the impact on the environment and so that others can enjoy it too.

How big is the problem?

Post-picnic littering, along with wider public littering on roadsides and in towns is a big problem. In fact, a government survey found that 81% of people are frustrated by the amount of litter lying all over the country. In 2016 the Great British Beach Clean collected 802 litter items for every 100 metres of beach in England. And in 2015 and 2016, street cleaning cost local government a whopping £778m.

The impact on animals

Packaging left abandoned after picnics is having a significant impact on wildlife. Research on litter by the RSPB and Keep Britain Tidy found that littered bottles and cans sometimes contained remains of some of mammals including shrews, bank voles and wood mice. In 2016, the RSPCA received more than 5,000 phone calls about litter-related incidents affecting animals. Then there’s the issue of plastics left abandoned from beach picnics and BBQs being blown into the sea and contributing to the massive plastics problem in our oceans.

What can be done to help?

The government have introduced the Litter Strategy for England that focuses on changing behaviour when it comes to littering. It involves the education of schoolchildren and citizens, but also encourages better information on packaging and working with businesses to encourage waste reduction. Some parks are tackling the problem head on too, providing useful guides for their visitors to help them enjoy litter-free picnics and protecting Britain’s parklands and forests so that everyone can enjoy them to the fullest, free from litter.

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