Promise to the planet – Litter Survey

Promise to the planet – Litter Survey

24 April 2023

Shockingly 920 million drinks containers in Scotland were either littered, sent to landfill or incinerated in 2019. And, did you know that 80% of litter on our UK beaches has made its way there from inland sources?

We know Scouts care about our green spaces and are passionate about caring for the planet. Promise to the Planet is all about finding hands-on ways for our Scouts to make a difference wherever they live, use their voices to inspire decision makers, and record their actions for the planet. So here's an opportunity for your group to provide crucial environmental data in the battle against litter.

Scouts are being invited to take part in a much needed Deposit Return Litter Survey run by The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) and Marine Conservation Society. The survey will help clean our local communities, whilst helping to collect data through litter picks and contribute to the first data set of its kind in the UK, focusing on the environmental impact of implementing a deposit return scheme.

One of the best forms of data your group could supply is from a regular litter pick – to show the change in the amount of rubbish in an area over time. It’s easy to share your data with us – and you can take part as many times as you wish before December 2024.

A deposit return scheme is due to be introduced in Scotland in early 2024. The data will be used to compare levels and types of litter before and after the implementation. So, organising at least one litter pick in 2023 and another in 2024 would be a great help.

Linking with the programme

Organising a local litter pick could help your group better understand the impact of littering in your local community. Litter picks support social impact projects and can also help groups work towards badges and awards such as the Squirrel Local Superhero Activity Badge, Community Impact Stages, Beaver My World Challenge Award, Cubs Our World Challenge Award, Scouts Expedition Challenge Award and the Thistle Awards.​ ​By returning to the area over time and after the launch of the Deposit Return scheme, young people will be able to understand the local impact of Scotland’s drive to become greener.

You’ll need to decide on a local location to litter pick, ideally somewhere with good public transport links or within easy walking distance for most of your unit. It would be great to involve all age groups.

Frazer Horswell of 15th Kincardine (Clackmannanshire) said, “Our whole unit is coming together for the Big Help Out on Monday 8th May to litter pick parks across Kincardine Village. We’re looking forward to cleaning up our community, with all ages participating.

When we heard about the Deposit Return Litter Survey we were keen to get involved. It’ll be easy to integrate into our badge work plans and it’ll be fantastic to see the impact data. We’re proud to be the first group in Clackmannanshire taking part and hope it inspires others to do the same. Accessing the data will help us understand and demonstrate our impact to the young people taking part. I’m sure it will be a real incentive to our whole unit to get out litter picking again & we hope others in the community will get involved too."

 You’ll need a few items which your local council may be able to help you source:

Bags, gloves, litter picks, pens and a litter survey sheet

download the litter survey sheet here

Litter Pick Survey instructions:

Work in pairs or small groups to help young people collaborate and take responsibility for collecting and counting the litter they pick.

Ideally please use the litter survey sheet provided as this will help us collate the data and report back to you on your group’s impact

Younger children can work without a sheet but please make sure the number of items is counted. The data can then be transferred to a survey sheet after the activity.

When filling out your data sheet, please make sure to fill in the box which states ‘Did you take part in the clean as part of an organisation?’ with: Scouts Scotland - Section name. For example, Scouts Scotland - 2nd Thurso

​​Why not celebrate your efforts with a picnic? You can talk about clearing up wrappers and bottles responsibly after your picnic, so the group connect their own activities with caring for the environment.

​If this type of activity is something your group is interested in, you may be interested in our activity pack made in partnership with Sustrans. It includes lots of programme ideas to help inspire our members to get active outdoors, explore your local neighbourhood and improve health and wellbeing, and all the activities link to badges! ​