More litter pickers have volunteered as lockdown starts to lift, and now 520 are helping keep the city clean.

One of those dedicated volunteers has picked up 5 tonnes of litter in just a year.

Now, as we can meet up to 6 people or another household outdoors, it’s more important than ever to take any rubbish home or use the bins provided. Whether it’s a bag of dog mess, picnic wrappings or takeaway packaging, don’t drop litter: take it home and give our volunteers a break.

Pete Hodgkinson, one of the city’s volunteers from Acomb, has been collecting litter for 7 years.

Most mornings, he sets off no later than 7.00am and walks 4 to 5 miles, covering a wide area including Poppleton, Knapton, Skelton and Acomb Green. He estimates he picks up 5 tonnes of rubbish a year. Before travel was restricted due to the pandemic, he often used the time to learn foreign languages on his mobile headphones before his next holiday abroad.

As lockdown restrictions are lifted over the next few weeks, Pete is urging residents to tidy up after themselves and take their litter home.

This year, he’s noticed no reduction in litter in general and a big increase in discarded face coverings. He said:

One huge change has been all the masks that get thrown on the ground – I count them and my record so far was 34 on one day.

“Last year when lockdown ended we noticed a big increase in litter in green spaces, especially along the river. I would say to people leave our green spaces as you found them!“

Councillor Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, said:

1 volunteer picking up 5 tonnes of litter in 1 year says so much about Pete and his determination to support the city.

“Sadly, it also says a lot about people who don’t take their waste home and don’t give a thought to the work, the germs and the eyesores their litter creates. That is unacceptable.

“So when you leave home to walk your dog or picnic, please take back any waste to your own bin or use those provided. Let’s keep our city as lovely as we found it.”

Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities:

I’m so grateful to Pete and the other 520 volunteers who pick up litter - often before many of us are up - and are committed to keeping our city the place which we love to enjoy.

“Throughout this past year, each one of York’s litter picking volunteers have continued to work tirelessly and selflessly to pick up the litter people carelessly drop.

“If you have some spare time and would like the handy essentials to get litter picking in your local area, see further information about the volunteer litter picker role, and other current volunteering opportunities and get in touch with the council’s friendly team. Every hour volunteered makes a massive difference, helping to keep our communities clean and tidy.”