Francesca Saunders: We can all do our bit for clean streets

During the past few weeks litter has become more noticeable, scattered over snow and overflowing from bins. However, it is disappointing for me to note that litter in our beautiful city of Edinburgh is not just a current problem but an on-going, year-round one.

The way I see it, instead of complaining about it, why not try to be part of the short-term, if not long-term solution? Of course I realise that the ultimate answer is to stop people from dropping it in the first place, but there hangs another tale.

In an effort to at least reduce the amount of litter we all sadly have to live with, I set up a free, grass-roots initiative called "People Against Litter", or Pal.

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One becomes a Pal by committing to picking up at least one piece of litter per week. That person then asks another to become a Pal, who in turn asks someone else and so on. We are so far 800 and the more we are the less litter we all have to live with.

There are no meetings, no group clean-ups. It is not area-specific and can be done wherever you live or are visiting. By word of mouth, numbers will increase and lead to an improved environment for us all.

Those concerned about any possible hygiene risk should note there are doctors who have become Pals, and it is surely more unhygienic to use public toilets and handle money than to pick up a can or chocolate wrapper?

I would not wish anyone to pick up needles, broken glass, dog waste and so on, and I like to think that as responsible adults, we are capable of making sensible decisions.

It pleases me to write that among well known Pals we can count Bill Bryson, Ian Rankin and Lorraine Kelly.

Even the Duke of Edinburgh and Duchess of Cornwall have been photographed picking up litter.

If they can, can't you?

Take a look at, join us and become a Pal to your communities wherever you live and to Edinburgh. (Contact details will not be passed to third parties.)

• Francesca Saunders is the founder of People Against Litter