A group involved in a community initiative hope to turn Aberdeen into the first UK city to roll out a mass litter picking project.
An ambitious plan by Community CleanUP is under way to create several ‘pick and collect’ litter hub stations throughout the city.
And thanks to KFC, the 2020 Community Champions have received a large donation of litter picking equipment to help them achieve their goal.
It comes after their Mugiemoss riverside project collected almost 12 tonnes of rubbish in the past year.
The project has also become a lifeline for those struggling with mental health by offering support whilst working outdoors.
Community CleanUP founder, Mike Scotland, explains how the litter hubs will work.
“A lot of places in the UK only set up litter picking stations at the beach”, he said.
“But litter has to be on land before it gets to sea, the beach is the last resort.
“So, I thought, why don’t we do ‘pick and collect’ hubs.
“People can go for their walk and pick up litter, then bring the bags back, and clean down their equipment.
“All they need to do is take a picture, put it on the Community CleanUP page, let us know the location, and the council will collect it.
“Rather than just certain people doing it, you get the whole city doing it.”
Mike’s passion and enthusiasm for the project is infectious.
And it certainly rubbed off on his KFC colleagues when he worked there after losing his job with Shell.
Whilst there, he encouraged his teammates to go litter picking with him during breaks.
He said: “I loved the environment at KFC, their work ethic and core values.
“I posted videos on my LinkedIn about KFC and ended up getting contacted by some of the senior management.
“KFC wanted to assist so we asked, ‘how do you feel about supporting the mini hubs initiative?’
“We spoke to a company called the Helping Hand Company; they produce a lot of the litter picking equipment.
“KFC contacted them and now we’ve got enough items for 55 ‘pick and collect’ stations.
Each station will have two litter pickers, two small ‘graptors’ (pickers for kids), two bag holder hoops and sanitising wipes for cleaning equipment.
Neil Piper, Chief People Officer at KFC UK & Ireland, said: “We know how important it is for us to play our part in the issue of litter and our teams do their bit every day.
“But we are also thrilled to support Mike’s community efforts with this donation of equipment and know he will use it to make a real difference.”
The next step for the project is to identify people within the community to assist with the “staggered” hub roll out.
Mike said: “Different communities have got in touch to take ownership of it which is absolutely brilliant.
“Mini hubs are the next step for how we can empower people.
“The aim is to make Aberdeen brighter and with that comes a real community spirit”.
The father-of-two believes that educating children about the environment is key, and that this begins in the home.
His young son, Lucio, 2, has been helping him litter pick since he was 19 months old.
He adds: “We should be at a point where our kids should just go to the park and have fun, not pick up litter.
“Picking up litter is not difficult.
“It’s about re-educating people.
“Rather than tell people off for dropping litter, we should create a culture where it is not accepted”.
In 2019, Mike set up the group Man UP Speak UP aimed at offshore workers who were struggling with their mental health.
Now, the father-of-two is back to working for Shell as a Health & Safety Advisor and runs weekly ‘resilience sessions’ offshore.
He is the “go-to” guy for people to speak openly to about their issues.
For more information on the project or to get in touch with Mike, visit: Community CleanUP.