The H2O campaign aims to cut the amount of rubbish in the outdoors. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The H2O campaign aims to cut the amount of rubbish in the outdoors. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Hillwalkers and climbers will be asked to take part in a major campaign to clean up the country’s mountains.

The British Mountaineering Council will launch its project at this weekend’s Sheffield Adventure Film Festival.

The twin aims are to raise awareness among hillgoers of the consequences of their actions and to encourage them to remove litter on their trips to the mountains.

The Hills to Oceans; Removing Mountains of Waste – H2O – campaign is being led by the BMC’s access and conservation policy officer Cath Flitcroft.

She said: “According to Greenpeace, 80 per cent of litter we drop that ends up in the oceans comes from inland. So it makes sense for us to try to communicate to our members and the general public that actually, the decisions we make here often end up elsewhere.”

Ms Flitcroft said several litter-picks take place around the country, including Keep Britain Tidy; Keep Wales Tidy; the Real Three Peaks, which undertakes clean-ups across mountains in different areas of the country, plus groups such as Surfers Against Sewage which is carrying out a litter pick, Summit to Sea, over a two-week period in April.

She said: “There isn’t one place particularly for those with an interest in hillwalking and the mountain environment where you can go and look and find out about the litter picks.

“The first part of the campaign is bringing all those together and I’ll be including links so if people want to go and join in an event they can access the information there.

“But the second part is, the BMC has already got a number of climbing and walking festivals and obviously we have links with the clubs, so at all the events we’re holding this year we’ll be doing a litter pick as part of that.

“The third part is a callout to the general public: please, if you’re interested, go and remove some litter from your local crag; from your local hill; your local walk, and we can provide the resources to do that.”

Cath Flitcroft: 'trying to make the campaign more outdoorsy'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Cath Flitcroft: 'trying to make the campaign more outdoors-relevant'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Ms Flitcroft said there will be an online resource pack with advice on clothing, insurance and risk assessment. “All the boring but necessary stuff,” she said. “We can also give out a few t-shirts, hopefully some compostable or biodegradable bin bags. We’ve been talking to a company about which one is strongest and which one will be the best, and some litter pickers. These can also be broken down.

“We can obviously use them several times but they can be broken down and recycled.

“Although you might be removing rubbish that can’t be recycled, we are at least providing some quite ethical products to go and do this.

“Hopefully people will let us know when they’ve done it; how many bags of rubbish they’ve removed. Have they found anything interesting? What are the key brands that they’ve found? Is it tins of Guinness or the Monster drinks? What kind of brands? Just so we’ve got a bit of information and other organisations such as the Surfers Against Sewage are doing something similar.”

Organisers of an upcoming Friends of the Lake District litter-picking event are asking for similar information. The BMC officer said: “I think, by the end of the year, we’ll have quite a good picture of where was particularly bad, what were the popular brands. Who knows, possibly at the end of the campaign we could send that information to those brands and say, look, you need to do some marketing around this.

“As a membership organisation, we know the buzzword at the moment is plastics, so we want to get in on that and I think we’re in a good place to do that as we can tell where people go and what they think.

“The Campaign to Protect Rural England also have a website called Litter Action and you can put in your postcode and find a local litter pick. That exists but it’s a bit hidden.

“We’re just trying to make ours a bit more outdoors-relevant.

“The ultimate aim is to clean up and raise awareness about the decisions we make when we go out: don’t buy that single-use plastic from the shop; take that reusable bottle. Put your sandwiches in a sandwich box.

“I suspect the majority of BMC members are quite savvy but it’s very easy to rock up somewhere and think, oh yeah, I need another bottle of water or I need this, so just prepare and plan.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a positive impact on what ends up in our oceans and in landfills.”

When details of the campaign are finalised, they will be posted on the BMC website.

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