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Community litter picks

Somerset West and Taunton Council takes pride in its area and is responsible for the collection of litter on public land. However, we are always grateful for the help and support that the community provides towards this goal.

If you want to organise a community/group litter picking event then please read through our litter pack below which contains useful and practical information to help you plan a litter pick or beach clean in your local area.

Please ensure that you discuss your arrangements for the disposal/recycling of the waste you collect with us or the landowner before the event takes place.

During the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, please ensure that your litter picking event has appropriate safety measures in place, for example, physical distancing and limited group sizes in line with current government guidelines. In addition to the litter pack advice, please view guidance from Keep Britain Tidy.

How to organise your litter pick

  1. Visit our website and download this checklist (Well done! This box is ticked!)
  2. Find out the owner of the land you want to visit - for a local park this could be the County Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council, Town Council or Parish Council. Ask around, as someone in your community probably knows
  3. Ask the owner –see our Template Letter to Land owner. For SWT owned land, this will be by emailing the person on our list
  4. Contact us about collecting the rubbish by using our general enquires online form. You will need to be clear that you are a voluntary community group collecting litter and you will need to have a conversation about where to leave the rubbish you collect and when it will be collected
  5. Read our Hints and Tips for a Safe Litter Pick below and complete a Risk Assessment for your Litter Pick. The Land Owner may ask to see this. See our example risk assessment for a template
  6. Find a copy of your group’s Public Liability Insurance and make sure it covers you for your litter pick. Take a copy to your litter pick as you may need to show it to the Land Owner before you carry out the litter pick. If you don’t currently have insurance, read the preparation guide for litter picking produced by Ladbrook insurance
  7. Read the guidelines on the Keep Britain Tidy website so you can answer any questions.
  8. Make sure your group is kitted out – we have a number of kits that we can loan to community groups, including high vis. Contact us by using our general enquires online form for more information.
  9. Watch the weather forecast and dress accordingly!
  10. Start making a difference! Share any photos to our Facebook page @SWTCouncil or tweet about it @SWTCouncil, so long as you meet your own group’s policies about sharing photos

Hints and tips for a safe litter pick or beach clean

Follow our guide so you have a good experience with your group. We strongly advise that you complete a risk assessment in accordance with your community group policy and follow any recommendations from that too. You can download a template risk assessment here.

Make sure your volunteers:

  • Dress for the weather – they should wrap up well if it’s cold or windy, waterproof coats and boots if rainy and loose clothing with a hat if hot and sunny
  • Wear sunscreen and hats – even a cloudy day can burn fair skinned people
  • Can be seen – everyone needs to wear a high vis vest
  • Take care on slippery or steep surfaces
  • Avoid nettle, thorny hedges and bramble patches – guard against scratches and carry a first aid kit in case they do get scratched
  • Drink plenty of water – volunteers should bring water bottles (refillable of course!)
  • Don’t go on roads – warn volunteers not to go near busy roads
  • Stay safe – check tide times and make sure you know where is safe when beach cleaning
  • Don’t pick up hazardous materials (such as needles, medical waste, dead animals)
  • Ensure children and/or vulnerable adults are supervised at all times
  • Work together in small groups and agree a time and place for the whole group to meet up again, ensure group leaders/supervising adults have mobile phones in case of an emergency
  • In the case of an ongoing risk of Coronavirus, group leader(s) to put correct measures in place e.g. physically distancing and limited groups sizes in line with current government guidelines