Lesley Hinds: Help give litter the heave-ho

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There’s no two ways about it: keeping this beautiful city clean and litter-free is the responsibility of each and every one of Edinburgh’s residents and visitors. Although we’re of course very encouraged by the most recently published independent street cleanliness scores, there is absolutely no room for complacency – we all can, and should, be doing much more.

Figures out last week showed a total of 97 per cent of the streets assessed under the scheme in September last year were found to have an acceptable level of cleanliness – the highest percentage to date since Keep Scotland Beautiful’s assessments began.

Great results, undoubtedly, and testament to the hard work of our street cleaners and environmental wardens. In addition, a trade waste pilot scheme where businesses put out their bins at a specified time only will be launched in Rose Street later this month. It should go a long way towards keeping streets clutter-free as well as reducing litter and deterring vermin

But while these cleanliness scores help us to see where our litter-busting energies are paying dividends – and conversely, which areas need closer attention – they are not the end of the story.

Anecdotal evidence also speaks volumes and I know from the calls and emails I get as a local councillor that many residents are just as passionate as I am about keeping Edinburgh clean and attractive.

Most people take pride in their surroundings and do their bit. Sadly, not everyone is as civic-minded though, and we still face a major challenge in tackling antisocial littering and dog fouling in this city.

To do this, we need a combination of ongoing education, awareness-raising and enforcement.

Clean Up Edinburgh, a city-wide awareness-raising campaign aimed at tackling the issue of litter was launched in October 2013, and seeks to change public attitudes, urging everone to take responsibility for keeping their local community clean.

More than 400 people all over Edinburgh, including schools, businesses and community groups took part in a Day of Action to launch the campaign on November 29 2013. The Clean Up Edinburgh Pledge has been signed now by 50 councillors as well as Sir Chris Hoy and Scottish Rugby Union star Ross Rennie.

We want to see as many people as possible sign up to the pledge and follow the excellent example of the likes of Hermitage Primary School and McDonalds in holding communal litter clean-ups.

Sign the pledge at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/litter and we’ll give you lots of ideas on how to get involved. This is such a big year for Edinburgh and we all need to play our part to help show this great city off to the world in the best possible light – let’s work together and give litter the heave-ho.

Lesley Hinds is environment leader at Edinburgh City Council