Meet the East Kilbride Community Litter Pickers here to clean up the town


Adult nappies, bottles of urine, a 1970 crisp packet and an inflatable pink flamingo were among the deluge of disgusting and bizarre finds East Kilbride Community Litter Pickers have binned in the last year.

The group’s hardy volunteers claim to have lifted the equivalent weight of “five elephants” of litter from East Kilbride’s streets and green spaces.

But its founder says their efforts in disposing of this staggering amount of rubbish are just a drop in the ocean.



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Formed at the height of the COVID pandemic in March 2021 by local wom Alice Alves, the Facebook group now boasts 1700 members.

Its hardcore contingent of volunteer litter pickers can be seen in their Hi-Vis vests cleaning up the town most weekends.

“I used to get really depressed and angry at the amount of litter I saw around me while walking to work, and when lockdown hit I saw it as an ideal time to start doing something about it,” Alice told Lanarkshire Live.



Alice says money is often found littering the streets of East Kilbride

“I knew there was far too much even to make a small dent in it so decided to start up the Facebook group – the response from like-minded folk around the town was phenomenal.

“It totally lifted my spirits and within weeks we had 1000 members all willing to help clean up the town.”

Alice insists from the very outset that she wanted the group to be both positive and proactive.

“I didn’t want it to be a group where people moaned about the council and moaned about the litter,” she added.

“I wanted people to tell us about areas near to where they lived and ask for help from the group to clean it up.”



Bottles filled with urine found dumped on Poplar Gardens

EKCLP believe littering is a societal-wide issue with no specific group of litter louts solely responsible for the town’s mess.

The worst areas identified by the group are where large quantities of people gather in a concentrated area such as supermarkets, retail outlet car parks, fast food chains, schools, hospitals, bus and railway stations and, most notably, industrial estates.

Volunteer Gael Davidson told us: “Main roads in and out of East Kilbride suffer badly from drive-by littering from public transport commuters, commercial vehicles, HGVs and private cars.



The infamous pink flamingo found floating in Calderglen

“Plastic and glass bottles along with fast food packaging and shopping trollies, usually on main roads, are most common.

“Schools are merely a microcosm of wider society and the town’s littering problem, but it is an issue needing to be addressed.”

EKCLP say they prefer to take a non-judgmental, positive and inclusive approach to tackling the littering problem.

They work closely with South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) who provide bags and uplift filled bags directly after group events.



Volunteer Kirsten Robb and the team collected 30 bags of rubbish and tires at a recent litter pick

Local businesses have provided equipment and refreshments following events, or prizes for competitions, while schools have engaged in litter picks and anti-litter poster competitions.

Gael added: “We have a core action group which meets virtually and in person to strategise.

“We have worked hard to create positive, collaborative projects with businesses, schools, other community groups and SLCs.

“We’ve held open air events to publicize the group while social media has been an invaluable tool for generating interest to attract new group members and identify areas needing cleared up.



Fly-tipping is a huge problem in East Kilbride

“We undertake general open group picking events at specific business/industrial locations as well roadside, residential streets or green spaces.

“We also liaise with schools with SLC also engaging with schools on an audit of litter with proposals to undertake a rota of pupil litter picking events.”

Looking to the future, the group believes a multi-organization collaborative campaign from parliament, local government, business and stakeholders is the way forward.

“Public re-education is the only way the situation will improve,” said Gael.



An EKCLP volunteer bags it up

“Whether it be via a national advertising campaign, specific environmental education, easier access to council waste facilities or the introduction of larger fines for mass littering and fly-tipping.

“It could take a generation before we witness any lasting and significant improvement.”

Alice added that here needs to be a huge change in our society about responsibility to dispose of litter properly and urged locals to take stock of the situation.

She told us: “I’d like everyone reading this to have a conversation at home and at work, with friends and family about litter and to open their eyes to the huge problem it is becoming.



Dumped face masks are a common sight around the town

“Things need to change before our country becomes an embarrassment. We are just a drop in the ocean, there are many similar groups all over the country fighting the same battle.”

EKCLP meet tomorrow for a clean up of Lammermoor Park from 2-4pm.

heir next clean up is at Whitehills Terrace near Domino’s Pizza on April 23 from 10.30 till 12pm.

If you would like to join EK Community Litter Pickers visit their Facebook page.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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