A volunteer group set up to combat littering across Fife fear they are merely scratching the surface despite collecting over 10,000 bin bags full of rubbish in the last year.
Fife Street Champions, which now has over 1,600 online followers, promotes volunteer litter picking groups to clean up blighted areas across the Kingdom.
The group’s founders fear that despite the success of collecting a staggering 10,397 bags of rubbish in 2020, the problems of littering has increased considerably during the lock down and are now urging more people to get involved.
Furthermore, volunteers now have a new found problem associated with the pandemic – discarded masks.
Last month alone volunteers collected 1,918 discarded face coverings while out litter picking and they say the numbers are growing.
Retired business manager, David Spence, 65, said he is now finding scores of masks every time he ventures out in his home town of Glenrothes.
“It’s a consequence of the pandemic but given the health implications, let alone the environmental impacts, you’d think people would be disposing of face masks properly and safely at home,” he said.
“However, in reality we are seeing more and more being discarded.
“Since September 2020 volunteers have uplifted just short of 4,000 masks, half of which were retrieved just last month.
“We fear unless highlight the issue it’s only going to continue getting worse.”
The group has the backing of Fife Council and Safer Communities Fife who supply bags and equipment as well as collect the full bags, as do the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust.
The group was set up 2018 by Freuchie resident, Hilary Haman, who was fed up with the problem of littering blighting her own community.
It has since become affiliated with the Happy Beaches Fife clean up organisation and members have recently set up a Junior Fife Street Champions group, designed to educate and encourage youngsters against littering and to set up their own litter picking initiatives.
“The beach clean aspect accounts for 25% of the total waste collected with the rest being streets, woodland, natural beauty spots and local community areas,” David said.
“Encouraging youngsters at an early age about littering is vital and we are delighted to now have a number of Fife primary Schools having joined us and more expressing an interest.”
Glenrothes SNP MP Peter Grant praised the group’s actions but added that he was “shocked” by the volume of rubbish collected.
He said: “It’s the equivalent of nearly 30 bags of rubbish being thrown on the ground every day of the year.
“Every piece of litter in every one of those 10,397 bags has been deliberately dropped by someone who just doesn’t care about the mess they’re making, or about the risks many kinds of litter can cause to wildlife and sometimes to pets.
“I would encourage others to get involved with the group, but even more so I ask all Fifers to clean up after themselves and either bag and bin their rubbish, or take it home to be disposed of safely.”
To learn more about how you could get involved, go to Fife Street Champions Facebook page.