Litter picking with children is a wonderful activity that encourages kids to care for the environment and understand they can make a big difference! We look at the best children’s little pickers and activities to help encourage children to care for nature.
Litter covers our parks and beaches and costs us millions of pounds to clear up every year. Taking children on a litter-picking adventure might not seem like much fun and take some encouragement however, it is a great way to teach children about the devastating effects litter has on the environment.
Here we advise you on how to litter pick safely with kids, give you some fun and engaging litter picking activities, and we have linked relevant recommended equipment to get you started.
How to litter pick safely with children
Children should always be accompanied by a responsible adult when taking part in a litter-picking activity. Before you begin, make sure children understand which items are potentially dangerous and should not be picked up. It is important to teach children that if they are in any doubt they should ask a grown-up before picking the litter up.
It’s important that children are provided with gloves and wear suitable clothing and footwear. Ensure you have considered the weather and have enough to drink. If it is warm, consider suncream/hats.
Don’t let children pick for more than one hour at a time.
- Hazardous objects such as unidentified cans or canisters, oil drums, and chemical containers.
- Sharp objects such as broken glass.
- Clinical waste such as needles/syringes. Do not move these, make a note of their location and inform your local council.
- If dangerous, poisonous, or hazardous items are present, contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.
- Dangerous areas such as deep or fast-flowing water, steep, slippery, or unstable banks, sharp rocks, derelict buildings, busy roads, and electric fences (which are identified by yellow warning signs).
To avoid illness from poor hygiene those taking part in litter picking must :
- Observe social distancing with fellow volunteers and members of the public.
- Wear heavy-duty, protective gloves at all times.
- Cover any cuts (however minor) with surgical tape or a waterproof plaster.
- Keep hands away from mouth and eyes while litter-picking.
- Wash hands and forearms before eating, drinking, or going to the toilet.
Separate litter where possible
If possible, please separate the litter you find into three bags so as much as possible can be recycled:
- Plastic bottles.
- Aluminium cans.
- General waste.
Litter picking equipment
To get started litter picking, use a litter picker and some gloves. You will also need a bag to put the litter in, we recommend carrying hand sanitiser and washing your hands regularly.
Many local authorities lend individual items or kits to groups. You can find your local authority contact details here. You can also buy your own equipment directly from Keep Britain Tidy’s Litter Picking Shop. The children’s tidy-up kit is great.
Recommended Children’s little pickers
Helping Hand Company – Graptor Childrens Litter Picker
This litter picker has been made specifically for kids and has a fun dinosaur design. It’s 68cm/27-inch which is a child-friendly length. The comfortable handle also provides the child with a secure grip on the litter grabber which is specially designed for children to pick up litter with ease.
- ✔️ THE GRAPTOR is the perfect children’s litter picker aimed at ages 7-11. At just 27”/68cm it is a very child friendly length – a lightweight litter picker with a comfortable and secure grip. The over moulded handle will support little hands.
- ✔️ DINOSAUR DESIGN. Make environmental cleans ups fun! The vivid bright dinosaur/raptor litter grabber has been specially designed to capture children’s imagination when litter picking. Litter picking becomes an exciting outdoor learning exercise; they want to do it again and again!
- ✔️ SAFE AND EASY TO USE. Make litter picking easy and safe by discouraging children to pick up litter with their hands. The teeth on the Graptor jaws are tailored to pick up rubbish as quickly as possible, and the bright colour helps the child see this kid’s litter picker.
- ✔️ PERFECT FOR little litter hero’s – collect litter in schools, parks, beaches, playgrounds and more! The Graptor can form part of a kid’s cleanup kit for community, home, or school activities. Use alongside our NEW children’s Handi Hoop, ideal for any eco warrior who wants to recycle on the go.
- ✔️ HIGH QUALITY British design and manufacture from The Helping Hand Company – 100% reusable product. The Helping Hand Company is the only manufacturer of the Graptor and HH branded litter pickers – do not accept any imitations. No HH = not a genuine Helping Hand.
Rigger Kids Work/Gardening Gloves
These heavy-duty children’s kids and toddlers size rigger work and gardening gloves, with a hi-vis reflective knuckle guard, and with real leather inner palm and fingertip covering offer superior protection. Useful for a variety of indoor and outdoor uses including litter picking.
- Dedicated children's sizes
- 2-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12yrs, Teens, Adult
- Real leather palm & fingers
- Hi-vis reflective knuckle guard
- Heavy duty, superior protection
Handihoop Litter Bag Hoop
The litter picker’s trusty tool, the Handihoop bag opener is the thing to have if you are carrying out a clean-up. This simple and lightweight hoop is easy to use, comfy to carry and makes litter collection so much easier.
- ✔️ HANDI HOOP FOAM is the professional choice for litter picking solutions. High quality and robust, this bag holder offers an easy loading solution – no more struggling in windy conditions! Simply fasten your refuse bag into the bungee cord, and instantly increase your litter collection by 143%!
- ✔️ THE LITTER PICKERS BEST FRIEND, the Handi-Hoop bag openers are the tool to have if you are carrying out a cleanup – wherever you are. The padded foam handle guarantees a secure and comfortable grip.
- ✔️ SIMPLE AND LIGHTWEIGHT at just 100g. The elastic cord keeps the bin bag in place with a secure hold, making any type of litter collection so much easier. The strong and robust design will take the strain of carrying heavy bags. Ideal for volunteers, street cleansing operatives, environmental groups and more!
- ✔️ RECYCLE ON THE GO. Enables faster and easier litter picking. Measuring 14” diameter, this hoop fits all standard cleansing bags and recycling sacks, including reusable bags and can hold up to 8kg of litter. Use alongside a Helping Hand Litter Picker for fast and effective litter collection.
- ✔️ HIGH QUALITY British design and manufacture from The Helping Hand Company – 100% reusable product. The Helping Hand Company is the only manufacturer of the Handi Hoop FOAM and HH branded litter picking equipment – do not accept any imitations. No HH = not a genuine Helping Hand.
These litter picking activities will encourage children to join in and look after our planet.
These super-simple activities are small changes you can make whilst out and about but will make a huge difference.
Explain the different types of rubbish bins and recycling bins to children. Whilst out and about make a note or acknowledge the different types of bins they can see. Discuss with them where the rubbish g0es, how it is recycled and why we should recycle. This will encourage them to always throw their litter in a bin.
Simply look for litter
Whilst out for the day you might come across a suitable area that is littered, ask your children what they can see, how they feel about the litter being there, what it makes the area look like, and how it can be unsafe for wildlife or people. Take the correct equipment with you (we keep ours to hand in the car) and you might spark a lifetime of great habits. Get your child to keep an eye out for wildlife, too, so they can see all the animals and insects that have a safer, tidier home thanks to their work.
If your children need the extra encouragement why not make litter picking into a fun game? Provide them with the litter picking essentials take them to a park, beach, or playground, and ask them where they think the litter could be hiding. Just like a treasure hunt encourage them to fill their bags with as much ‘treasure’ as they can. Discuss where this litter should have gone. Should it have gone into the recycling bin or the litter bin? Can it be recycled?
Make a litter collage or sculpture
Pick out clean and safe litter from the children’s collections and help them to create their own litter collages. Get as crafty as you like but simply glueing the litter to a piece of sturdy card works well. This is a great way to learn what type of litter is frequently dropped in your local area. You can even do one collage for items that should go in the litter bin and one for recyclables. Making something beautiful out of other people’s rubbish is very rewarding.
Keep Britain Tidy
Keep Britain Tidy say that when we look after the environment, we look after ourselves as well. Volunteering to do something for the greater good – and being outdoors – results in improved mental and physical wellbeing. Last year, 79% of people who took the Great British Spring Clean reported improved mood and 51% said it encouraged them to move more.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenges we have faced this year, but small acts of kindness – to our planet, and ourselves – can help us improve our surroundings and our mood.
Pledge to support the Great British Spring Clean and help protect animals
This spring, 28 May to 13 June 2021 join Keep Britain Tidy and the community of #Litterheroes on their #MillionMileMission to clear litter from our streets, parks, and beaches. Because what is good for our environment is good for our mental and physical health too.
In the past 12 months, our outdoor spaces and places have mattered to us more than ever before. So join us and show some love for those special places that helped us through the lockdown.
Schools can take part in The Great Big School Clean.
The Great Big School Clean will take place from 28 May – 13 June 2021 but the great news for schools is that any clean-ups you register from 21st March – 13th June will be counted towards the total.
This year, they are asking you to pledge the number of minutes and hours your school will litter-pick for. Using a slow walking pace of three miles per hour, we will then let you know how many miles you have helped along with on their mission that, if they make it to a million miles, is the equivalent of going to the Moon and back – twice!
Have you ever been litter-picking with your children? Let us know your own experiences in the comments!