Sheffield litter picker ‘addicted’ to cleaning the city as fly-tipping increases

Julie has urged more people to pick up a bin bag and join her fight against littering.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 6:00 am
Julie Gay

Litter picking hero Julie Gay, 60, of Bradway, has been collecting other peoples’ rubbish for over 15-years, and has called for more support as the level of waste increases in Sheffield.

Julie’s good deeds help combat the pressing climate change concerns, and emphasised the role parents should be playing in getting their families involved in supporting the environment.

“It’s a joy when parents join our litter picking groups to help address the issues,” she said.

Litter pickers

“They are helping educate their children in caring for all things environmental, particularly as we are in a climate crisis.

“These issues are impacting us all, and our health is suffering. We already eat fish that has ingested plastic and we are losing species far too rapidly.”

Julie and her husband, Richard, have actively been encouraging more Sheffielders to clean up their city, and found a new way to get their message across to the younger generations.

“Richard and I now talk to the Cubs, Beavers and Brownies and organise litter picking with them. They are full of fun and enthusiasm and are very knowledgeable about environmental issues and impacts.”

Litter Hero

Since starting her fight for the environment, Julie has taken her litter-picker outside of Sheffield and across the seas to Menorca, Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Skye.

“I kept noticing trash everywhere and was always moaning about it, so Richard said go out and do something about it!

“I discovered Sheffield Litter Pickers on Facebook and immediately knew I wanted to be a part of this fabulous group of like-minded people.”

As a result of her efforts with the group, Julie decided to make a new body of volunteers in her S17 community.


“My inspiration and motivation were piqued, so I decided to start a local group where I live,” Julie added. “It started very small with four or five people initially, but it grew from this.

“We now have more than 12 regulars including children from the age of two. The group meets once a month, but quite a few individuals go out litter picking solo when they have a bit of spare time.

“It is definitely addictive and very satisfying to see the results.”

Since starting over 15-years-ago, Julie confirmed that the level of rubbish being left in Sheffield is increasing, especially since the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020.

“Single use disposable face masks are a littering menace on our streets. Anything related to takeaways are increasing too, such as plastic drink bottles, packaging and cans.

“Household goods are also left around, including furniture, fridges and building rubbles. My pet hate are cigarette butts which are highly poisonous, especially when they end up in our streams and rivers via drains.”

The Sheffield Litter Pickers Facebook group can be found here.