Keeping Canterbury Clean

Tom and Emma standing in front of Dane John Garden's water fountain

Canterbury’s littlest Litter Hero

When Tom and his family moved from London to Canterbury last year they couldn’t wait to call the city’s beautiful gardens and charming cobbled streets ‘home’. In the first few months, Tom and his sister Emma loved punting along the Stour, exploring Dane John Gardens and playing in Wincheap Play Area – yet Tom couldn’t help notice the litter left at his favourite spots, near his house and on his way to school. Worried about the environment and wanting to make a difference, he created a photo report about the litter he had found and sent it to the Leader of the Council, Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding. Enclosed was also a letter from Tom telling us how he wanted to take action and asking for our help in keeping Canterbury clean. 

When we received Tom’s report and letter, we were heartened by his desire to do good for his community and told him what steps the council is taking to tackle litter in the district. Having also learned of the litter-picker on Tom’s Christmas list, we gifted him and Emma the equipment needed to help them pick litter safely on their way to school.

Tom putting litter in a plastic bag

Tom taking action

Since then, Tom and Emma have joined Canterbury’s dedicated Litter Heroes who volunteer their time to make our district a cleaner, safer place. Each morning they collect litter left lying around on their way to school (with the help of their parents as certified rubbish bag holders!)

On a misty morning earlier this year, we joined Tom and his family on one of their school run litter picks. He showed us the worst spots for litter along their route while we asked him a few rubbish-related questions. When we asked Tom why he chooses to pick up litter, he said ‘because it keeps our planet healthy and clean!’ He also told us seeing litter around Canterbury makes him feel sad because we have such a beautiful town. His message to litter louts: you’re not looking after our planet!

A globe ball inside a plastic bag

Why we need to leave littering behind

Without wanting to sound naggy, there’s some pretty major reasons for making litter a thing of the past:

It looks ugly

Although it’s a superficial reason to take your rubbish with you, the magic of our district’s beautiful beaches, glorious gardens and charming cobbled streets is sadly dimmed when they’re strewn with litter! It’s crucial that Canterbury is an attractive place for residents to live (and Instagram-worthy for visitors) so we can attract more people to the district to encourage regeneration and economic recovery.

It causes environmental issues

Not only does litter make our beauty spots look unsightly, it also wreaks havoc with the environment by causing pollution and contamination problems. Abandoned waste can cause soil pollution in our parks, water contamination on our beaches and even air pollution that we breathe in. 

It harms our wildlife

As if that wasn’t bad enough, litter can be fatal to the prickly pals and furry friends who make up our wonderful local wildlife community. If the thought of sea creatures choking on balloons, animals trapped in plastic bottles, or little birds stuck in chewing gum makes you sad then make sure you bin your litter!

It’s a Health & Safety hazard

No one should end their beach day in A&E after stepping on sharp debris. Animals aren’t the only ones physically harmed by litter so help look after fellow residents by binning your rubbish or taking it home with you.

The cost of clear-up

Not only does litter look ugly, damage the environment, kill our wildlife and cause danger to fellow humans, it also costs a pretty penny to clean up! This is money that could be invested in other vital frontline services, like helping the homeless, had people simply binned their rubbish or taken it with them.

Canenco staff picking up a plastic bottle on the floor

How the council is tackling litter

Although minimising the amount of rubbish dropped is a key priority, we understand more needs to be done to tackle the rubbish that is left by litter louts across the district. This is why the council has committed to:

More investment in grounds maintenance

An extra £250,000 a year will be invested in grounds maintenance to ensure our gardens, parks and beaches remain clean and tidy for residents and visitors to enjoy safely.

More investment in street cleaning

There will be an additional £32,000 yearly investment in street cleaning to tackle litter that’s left on our streets.

Extra bins along our coastline

More litter bins will be positioned along our beaches during peak season to ensure there is no excuse for leaving litter behind.

Holding rule breakers to account

We will be strengthening the council’s enforcement powers by issuing more littering fines to those who disregard the rules and impact our residents’ quality of life. Where possible, the cost of providing this service should be made up by those rule breakers to ensure council taxpayers who follow the rules are not punished.

Banning balloon and sky lantern releases

We will uphold our ban on deliberate releases of helium balloons and sky lanterns on land owned by the council and at events we operate to help reduce sky litter.

Disposable cup sitting on a pebbly beach

What YOU can do to help

Our residents and visitors are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to keeping Canterbury clean. A few things you can do to help are:

Don’t leave your litter!

The easiest way to help us reduce Canterbury’s litter is by binning your rubbish or taking it home with you. Sounds almost too simple, right? Well it really is that easy! The less litter we need to clear up, the more resources we can allocate to other important services that will benefit our residents. 

Report a problem

Spotted a litter problem? Report it to us on our website so we can look into getting it sorted. It’s not always possible for us to pick up on every litter problem in the district. Your help in identifying issues enables us to tackle problems before they become dangerous.

Organise a litter pick

Become a Litter Hero like Tom to help us keep Canterbury clean! By applying to organise a community litter pick on our website, we could provide you with the equipment you’ll need to pick litter safely. We are so appreciative of the volunteer Litter Heros who dedicate their time to protecting Canterbury’s community.

Published: 19 September 2022

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