Litter is an issue that is very much prominent and in-your-face and as a result is an easy one to get you started on your eco-journey as a school.  There is a lot of great children’s books linked to litter and plastic pollution that you can use as a starting point to help them understand the issue and having compassion and empathy for the natural world and wildlife.

Organising a litter pick

Organising a litter pick is a great way to get children involved in keeping their local community clean, offers fresh air, is a simple school trip and educates them about the natural environment as well as what waste can be recycled or not.  You can organise a litter pick which involves your local community and in conjunction with a local litter picking group. This how-to guide is a useful reference tool.

There are a number of things to consider when planning a litter pick:

  • Notifying your local council to arrange the collection of bags and if you are undertaking the event in a public space such as a park or on the beach
  • Writing a risk assessment specific to litter picking hazards such as sharps, animal faeces and safe disposal of certain hazardous items
  • Who can attend – is it just classes going on a trip or will you involve the local community?  If it is for a wider audience, how will you advertise?
  • Where will it be – a street clean, a local park, the beach
  • Ensuring you have enough equipment for safe litter picking – high vis, gloves, litter pickers, bag hoops and sacks – where will you get it from?  Some local councils or litter picking groups can lend you equipment.
  • How will you record your finds and how will you share the information with others?  You might like to play a game of ‘litter bingo’ as a fun way of recording what you find.
  • Ensure you have the correct insurance

Keep Britain Tidy

Keep Britain Tidy are a great resource for help with litter education and it’s always great to take part in ‘the Great Big School Spring Clean’ each year around March/April time.  They provide free resources to schools who sign up as litter bingo and certificates for taking part.  Keep Britain Tidy also have Litter Hero Ambassadors and Litter Heroes across the country who can come in and talk to your students about litter and how they volunteer to pick it up.  Their knowledge and experience is second to none!

Curriculum links


Sorting items such as into recycling and non-recycling, into different materials and then discussing why they can be recycled or not is a good starting point, particularly for younger pupils.  Creating a litter ‘timeline’ to show which items take the longest to decompose promotes such thoughtful discussion and questioning.  See:

Design Technology

Using litter to create something new is a great eco-friendly way of implementing key design and making skills.  One example could be making eco bricks using soft plastics which can then be joined together to create a simple stool or table.  You might even decide to get the children to invent a machine or similar to help solve littering problems.


Encourage your students to use their creative skills whether through drawing, sketching, painting, collage or using other media to create posters to encourage people to not litter or design a litter bug.


Possible pieces of writing could be include making pledges on how to recycle more or reduce waste, writing letters to local authorities about local littering issues or creating litter poems.


Once you have been out litter picking, you can use the data in Maths lessons such as creating graphs, tallies or pictograms of the types of litter collected and interpreting this data.  You might also look at how much waste is thrown away in your school and how much is recycled.