A CAMPAIGN has begun in South Ayrshire to retrieve one million pieces of discarded waste from neighbourhoods and the countryside.

Increased awareness of litter in our communities has developed throughout the pandemic and the lockdown period has seen a rise in the number of people out and about picking up rubbish in their area.

But this campaign is taking that to the next level. The South Ayrshire Cleanup Campaign (SACC) is bringing all the litter pickers of South Ayrshire together to rid the area of a million pieces of rubbish by the end of this year.

Individuals and groups are invited to count their haul of trash and upload their figures to the SACC database where the amount being collected will be tracked.

The site is averaging about three uploads a day, with some volunteers picking up over 1,000 pieces of litter at a time.

The campaign was set up by Christopher Johnson, a regular litter picker with his family.

However, the campaign has gained wide following thanks to support from existing litter picking communities, such as Don’t Trash Ayr and Friends of Troon Beaches amongst others.

Christopher said: “During the first lockdown we turned our attention to our local park in Prestwick and even after several months were consistently removing over 300 pieces of litter during the weekly pick.

“As we approached 10,000 pieces, I knew we needed a motivation to avoid getting dispirited.

“All of us can recognise the mess that litter makes, with negative consequences for our environment, wildlife, and ultimately our own health through toxins.”

He added: “In doing this we want to highlight the anti-social consequences of littering, but also champion all the amazing effort that goes in to tidying up on a regular basis.“

It is hoped that more people will join the campaign and help by contributing their own litter picks to the count.

There have so far been just over 50,000 pieces of rubbish retrieved, 5 per cent of the target. And it’s early days for the campaign, having only been up and running since the end of January.

Christopher said: “The response to the campaign has been amazing so far – it has also inspired lots of people to join in and pick for the first time.

“One of the volunteers in Ayr recently said they now ‘saw the litter before nature’, which is the horrible truth for so many of us. However, every time we do a pick, strangers stop and offer thanks, more people join in. Litter isn’t someone else’s problem – it is all of our problem. And an hour ‘plogging’ can also be extremely meditative and fulfilling!”

Go to the @SACCMillion Facebook page for more info.