Council encourages residents to pick up their litter this Earth Day

Published: Thursday, 22nd April 2021

Oxford City Council is marking Earth Day 2021 by asking residents across Oxford to pick up their litter.

The Council is reminding residents to respect their parks and green spaces to help keep the city clean, protecting people, animals and the environment.

In January 2019, Oxford City Council unanimously declared a climate emergency in Oxford and agreed to create a Citizens’ Assembly to consider new carbon targets and additional measures to reduce emissions.

What is Earth Day?

The theme of Earth Day 2021 – an annual environmental event created first established in 1970 - is Restore Our Earth.

This year the theme focuses on the natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.

Each year Earth Day also holds The Great Global Clean-up, which has a goal to remove a billion pieces of rubbish from parks, beaches, cities, waterways, and wherever waste is found.

It is one of the easiest ways to get outdoors safely, beautify your community, and participate in Earth Day.

Celebrating and protecting our parks and green spaces

Keeping our parks and green spaces clean protects the welfare of the community, helps tackle the climate emergency and helps prevent injury to wildlife and domestic pets.

It only takes a second to pick it rubbish, bag it, bin it or take it home. By taking small individual steps people can make a huge stride towards protecting our environment. .

As well as being an outdoor activity for the whole family, litter picking can also be undertaken while walking the dog. Or you might even want to try Plogging - jogging and litter picking at the same time.

People who want to get involved in local litter picking can get in contact with community groups such as OxClean. They will be holding the OxClean Spring Clean 2021 during May and June, and are also able to lend equipment for individual litter picks. ODS are supporters of OxClean and are responsible for providing and collecting rubbish bags.

GoodGym Oxford will also be holding a plogging event on Wednesday 28 April 2021. More information can be found on the GoodGym website.

Good clean fun for summer

The city of Oxford has over 150 park and green space sites. Time spent in parks, whether exercising or just enjoying nature, has been shown to be good for physical and mental health, and this has proved especially important to during the pandemic.

It is important the whole community can benefit from enjoying our outdoor spaces all year round.

Sadly, during the last 12 months, the problem of littering has got worse in the spring and summer months.

During the recent spell of warm weather, a significant amount of rubbish was left strewn across the city’s parks and greenspaces.

Last year, on Port Meadow alone, the Council’s wholly owned direct services company ODS cleared up approximately three tonnes of rubbish a day during the warmer months. Furthermore, two cows, including a seven month old calf, died as the result of eating plastic bags, balloons and other left behind rubbish.

Other grazing cows and horses sustained multiple injuries, including glass cuts. ODS staff also had to rescue swans that became entangled in discarded rubbish.

Taking part in The Great Global Clean-up by picking up litter in Oxford on Earth Day will demonstrate how we can work together to keep our city clean throughout the warmer weather to come.

Tackling the climate emergency

In February 2021, the Council announced in its Carbon Management Plan, its aims to reach zero carbon across its own operational footprint by 2030,  minimising the use of offsetting where at all possible. 

The Council has also set out an aim of achieving zero carbon across the city as a whole by 2040, ten years ahead of the legal deadline set by Government, and has set up Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership with leaders from Oxford’s main institutions and employers, including the universities, hospitals, businesses and other organisations.

We all have the right to enjoy our parks and green spaces and Earth Day provides an opportunity to reflect and act upon the role of personal responsibility in keeping our city clean and safe.

“Littering is antisocial, harms health and wellbeing and is bad for the environment. As a community, we should not tolerate this selfish behaviour.

“It only takes a minute to clear up the things you brought with you and bin them. ODS staff are working increased hours cleaning up after other people but, despite their efforts, the harm has already been done through encouraging vermin and causing injury to wildlife and domestic animals. That’s in addition to making our greenspaces less enjoyable for other people. Please everyone, do not discard litter.”

Mish Tullar, Head of Corporate Strategy, Oxford City Council