Community litter picking intro

Information on getting involved with community litter picks.

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Northumberland’s face is its fortune. The cleanliness of the county is an important part of the quality of life of residents and in encouraging visitors.   

Rubbish is the first thing we want to tackle. You can help by organising a litter pick in your area. 

  Below sets out what you need to know to begin improving your county. 

Click here for more information and guidance on litter picking from Keep Britain Tidy.

Plan your litter pick

1. Choose an area you want to clean up. If its public land maintained by Northumberland County Council, email and let us know the area you intend to litter pick. If it’s privately owned land, get permission from the landowner(s).   
2. Decide when you want to do it.   
3. Tell your friends, family and neighbours you need their help.   
4. Northumberland County Council will provide litter pick packs for up to 20 people. These include:

  • litter pickers 
  • rubbish sacks 
  • high-visibility waistcoats 
  • gloves 

5. Complete a risk assessment. This simple procedure ensures you have considered any safety issues and taken necessary precautions to try and prevent them.   
6. Prepare yourself and your helpers for the day: 

  • Decide where you will meet and at what time. 
  • Think about how to split the group up to cover the area. 
  • Decide how long you will litter pick and when you will take breaks. 
  • Think about refreshments and what toilet facilities are available. 
  • Think about first aid, safety and hygiene. Is there a first aider in the group? Do you have a supply of antibacterial wipes or hand gel? Take some plasters and antiseptic for any cuts or grazes. 

7. Go through an activity planning checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

On litter pick day

1. Brief the group on: 

  • Health and safety. Check everyone has read the safety checklist, knows how to use the equipment and what to avoid. 
  • Meeting points, break and finish times. 
  • Where to place the collected rubbish. 
  • Who the first aider is and/or what to do if an injury occurs. 

Litter pick safety checklist 

  • Use gloves and always avoid direct contact with litter. 
  • Use a litter picking tool where possible for any glass and metal items. 
  • Any needles or sharp objects should be dealt with by a fully trained member of the council’s Neighbourhood Environmental Action Team. Do not pick up any suspect items, particularly those listed as hazards. Note their location and report them to the council immediately following the litter pick. 
  • Clean hands thoroughly before eating food or drinking. 
  • Rubbish should not be compressed using hands or feet, as this can accidentally puncture the skin. 
  • Avoid contact with the body when carrying plastic bin bags. 
  • Ensure any cuts or abrasions are clean and covered with a waterproof plaster. 
  • Wear stout shoes and waterproof clothing. 
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects or sacks alone – ask for assistance if required. 
  • Be aware of your environment and do not put yourself at risk while picking litter.  

2. Check everyone is wearing or has appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather and terrain. 
3. Ensure there is sufficient supervision for young/vulnerable volunteers.   
4. Ask the group to be considerate to wildlife and people using the area   
5. Exchange mobile phone numbers to ensure good communication links between the group.     

After the litter pick event

Check Northumberland County Council has collected the rubbish as scheduled. If it has not been picked up, please contact us again,

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