Leith drive to combat litter wins top gongs

Gerry and Zsuzsa Farrell at the launch of Leithers Don't Litter. Picture: Jane Barlow
Gerry and Zsuzsa Farrell at the launch of Leithers Don't Litter. Picture: Jane Barlow
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COMMUNITY campaign group Leithers Don’t Litter has picked up a raft of top awards as it continues its crack-down on rubbish.

The initiative – launched last year by advertising guru Gerry Farrell and his wife, Zsuzsa – won six gongs at the Scottish Creative Awards and Scottish Resources Awards on Thursday night.

It was praised for its innovative use of stunts and advertising, as well as its impact on reducing litter in the streets.

And Gerry and Zsuzsa also came away with the Grand Prix 2016 – the top prize dished out by the Creative Awards – for their art exhibition dubbed “Crapitalism”.

Packed full of “rubbish” exhibits, Crapitalism took big brands to task for their poor record on recycling and waste using a number of thought-provoking artworks.

Highlights included blown-up posters featuring discarded packaging from well-known companies – alongside punchy slogans riffing on the brands. A photo of a trodden-on Tesco bag, for example, featured the caption “very little help”.

Gerry, who also writes a column for the Evening News, said shops and food outlets did not do enough to mitigate the impact their products have on the environment – such as by using recyclable cups.

As well as eye-catching stunts, Leithers Don’t Litter – which has won the backing of hundreds of residents – organises an “adopt a street” scheme where volunteers collect litter.

The husband-and-wife team also work in schools to promote respect for the environment, while their Facebook page has become a platform for residents to highlight problems and seek advice on issues from flytipping to bin collections.

At the Scottish Creative Awards, they scooped gongs for their copy-writing, exhibitions and stunts, while at the Scottish Resources Awards they were given the prize for “Best Litter Prevention”.

The couple say their ultimate aim is to change attitudes towards dropping litter – making it as socially unacceptable as smoking in public.

Zsuzsa said: “What was special about it is that we won an award from the recycling experts, as well as from the advertising professionals. Leith has such a strong community, and our supporters mean a lot to us. Sometimes it could be discouraging if you just looked at the state of the streets. Very often you don’t see them improve as much as you want them to, but we also have to realise that changing attitudes takes time. That’s what we want to do – to make littering socially unacceptable.”

Leithers Don’t Litter has previously received praise from MSPs who argue it is setting an example which could be followed nationwide.