When Sheffield couple Julie and Richard Gay got fed up with litter blighting their community, they decided to ‘stop moaning and do something about it’.
The Totley residents started to pick up discarded rubbish on the streets – and then began going out on regular litter picks around Bradway and Beauchief.
Now the pair are being held up as a shining example of those who go the extra mile to keep the city clean as part of a new £100,000 anti-litter campaign.
Carer and former teaching assistant Julie, aged 54, said: “We live in a fantastic city that’s full of green spaces and lots of lovely parks, but all I could see was litter.
“One day I thought, ‘I can’t stand this any more, instead of moaning I’m going to do something about it’.
“It’s not just about the way it makes the city look, it’s about the effect on wildlife and the environment. Animals can get stuck in litter like can ring-pulls.
“I have found a beer bottle with a dead mouse inside it and that really upset me.
“If people didn’t clear it up, like the volunteers who go out on litter picks, I think we would be knee deep in litter, even though the council tries to keep on top of it.
“I can’t understand why anyone would litter – I don’t know what excuse they have.”
The council’s anti-litter campaign, called Clean Sheffield, will run for a year with three priorities – litter, dog fouling and fly-tipping.
Community volunteers who do their bit will be celebrated, education sessions held and residents encouraged to pick up dropped litter when they see it.
At the official launch on Fargate in the city centre yesterday, a truck filled with rubbish was on display. The equivalent of 18,500 truckloads worth of dropped litter is collected in Sheffield by council contractor Amey each year.
IT consultant Richard, 53, said: “People need educating to make a difference.”
The couple have discovered all kinds of rubbish during their litter picks.
Julie said: “I did find £15 once! But the main culprits are cigarette ends, plastic bottles and cans.”
Star readers expressed mixed views over the Sheffield Council campaign launch. Some said schools needed to get on board by taking children to clean up litter and agreed residents should do their bit while calling for a ‘national campaign’ on litter.
Others said litter bins were often ‘overflowing’, reporting litter to the council was difficult and there were not enough bins in the city.
Mick Daniels, of Brushes Tenants and Residents Association in Firth Park, said Amey contractors needed to litter pick before they cut grass. He also said that smaller roads missed out on cleaning as large sweepers could not get down them.
n To report litter or fly-tipping call 0114 273 4567 or visit www.sheffield.gov.uk