Landscape conservation charity Friends of the Lake District is launching a litter campaign to encourage people to care for the landscape when visiting this summer. 

We know from research that we commissioned, carried out by Keep Britain Tidy, that most people don’t want to litter the national park but sometimes littering is the result of being unprepared, or not knowing what to expect when they get here.

For example sometimes visitors are surprised that there aren’t more bins, or bins out on the open fells. And people don’t realise that there isn’t a team of rangers paid to pick up litter. But the Lake District National Park covers 912 square miles of spectacular landscapes. It would be a massive feat for the rangers to litter pick such a large area – and impossible to get a bin lorry to the top of the fells!

A large proportion of litter collected in the national park consists of single use plastic, often food and drinks wrappings. So we want to encourage people to bring their food in reusable containers, bring a bag to take the waste home in, or eat in one of our great pubs or cafes. 

Quite often litter includes food waste, such as apple cores or banana skins, because people think these won’t harm the landscape.  What people often don’t realise is how long it takes for a banana peel to decompose, for example, (up to 2 years, and it can alter the acidity of the surrounding soil).

Dog poo bags are also a problem. Even biodegradable dog poo bags are not OK to leave in the countryside. No dog poop bag should be left on the ground - dog poop does not provide any benefit to the soil and when washed away it pollutes our waterways. Biodegradable plastic bags take 3 to 6 months to biodegrade, and they can still contain plastic that washes into our waterways and affects biodiversity.

A series of social media posts will run on Fridays throughout the summer, aimed at people visiting the national park at weekends.

Friends of the Lake District’s engagement officer Kay Andrews said: “The lasting effects of leaving rubbish in the landscape isn't just visual. It can kill wildlife and livestock, damage our soils, leach into our water systems and cause health hazards for people too. It’s a serious message but we wanted to make the messages light hearted, so our campaign covers mythbusting facts, spot the difference photos, quizzes, and of course, the non-existent litter cleaning fairies!”

Friends of the Lake District coordinates the annual Great Cumbrian Litter Pick, a two day event in which people pick litter in their local area all over Cumbria. 

For more information about how to Leave No Trace this summer, visit https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/news/leave-no-trace-this-summer