Published: 20th MARCH 2023

How volunteers can help tackle Scotland's litter emergency this spring

As Scotland records its worst year for litter, Sustrans Scotland’s Network Engagement Coordinator Laura White highlights the ways volunteers can help tackle the problem on the National Cycle Network.

Volunteers litter picking on National Cycle Network Route 73 in Kilwinning.

Credit: John Linton, 2019.

In December 2022, Keep Scotland Beautiful published their latest report on tackling the litter emergency in Scotland.

2013 was the cleanest year recorded in the country, but a decade later, we have just recorded our worst year for litter.  

The Scottish Litter Survey 2022 showed that 87% of people believe litter is an issue across Scotland.

We know that addressing the problem can help mitigate the effects of climate change and improve biodiversity.  

So, how can you get involved on the National Cycle Network this year?


Get involved with “Spring Clean” 

Spring Clean is a Keep Scotland Beautiful campaign to encourage people to litter pick in their community.  

Last year’s Spring Clean saw thousands of volunteers roll up their sleeves and join more than 100 events across Scotland. 

Sustrans is once again partnering with Keep Scotland Beautiful to support people to clean up their local National Cycle Network routes. 

This year’s Spring Clean runs from 17 March to 17 April.  

We know that time can be tight, but by taking even the smallest actions, you can make a difference to one of the country’s biggest environmental emergencies. 

A full Sustrans Scotland #2MinuteCleanUp bag on National Cycle Network Route 75.

In 2022, Scotland recorded its worst year for litter. Credit: Sustrans Scotland, 2021.

Take two minutes out of your day to collect litter as you go 

Only got a couple of minutes?

Ask us for a reusable #2MinuteCleanUp bag. 

These bags are designed to be kept in a backpack or pannier and used to collect a few bits of litter on your everyday walk, wheel or cycle, then emptied into an appropriate bin.  

You can find more quick things you can do to help on the National Cycle Network by visiting our Quick Ways to Volunteer in Scotland page.

Take part in a Sustrans-led litter pick 

Got an hour or two?

Join the Sustrans-led litter pick taking place on National Cycle Network Route 1 in Edinburgh, or find a community-run Spring Clean event near you on the Clean Up Scotland map.

Why not inspire others by spreading the word in your networks and sharing your actions on social media using #SpringCleanScotland and #NationalCycleNetwork. 

A young person, wearing an orange hi-vis vest, uses a graffiti removal wipe to clean an interpretation board along a traffic-free shared used path in Edinburgh.

Sustrans is partnering with Keep Scotland Beautiful to support people to clean up their local National Cycle Network routes. Credit: Sustrans Scotland, 2021.

Join the Paths for Everyone community 

Having a network of volunteers keeping an eye on the National Cycle Network and doing small tasks is invaluable to Sustrans and our Network partners. 

If you regularly have time to offer, and know a route that needs some attention, why not consider taking on some Paths for Everyone volunteering.  

You can get outside, connect with others in your area, tackle litter and know that you are helping to keep your local routes looking as great and accessible as possible.  

Paths for Everyone volunteers can also join our online platform to read the latest news and updates from Sustrans, and are the first to hear about new volunteering and training opportunities. 

Discover more on how to get started on the Paths for Everyone volunteering page. 

If you want to regularly organise bigger or public litter picks on the National Cycle Network, please talk to your local authority – many have volunteer schemes to support community litter picks. 

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