Essex Students Take Action to Keep Their Communities Litter Free!

SAS and The Greggs Foundation join forces with 6 Essex primary schools to take Anti-Litter Action!

This autumn we asked over 1000 Essex students if they had what it takes to keep their communities litter free, challenging them to create their very own ‘Anti-Litter Action Plans’. Our education team worked with schools from Southend to Barking to encourage their students to recognise the important and inspiring role that they could play in helping to keep their communities healthy and happy as they bid to win the inaugural ‘Be The Change Essex Award’ which included a 3ft trophy and a £250 grant to implement their plan.

Each day 2.25 million items of litter (the majority of which is plastic) are dropped on the UK’s streets, costing over 1 BILLION pounds to clear up (1). Sadly despite the removal of over 30 million tonnes annually (1), huge volumes of this plastic pollution escapes into our rivers and oceans and washes up on our beaches (there are now an estimated 2 million items littering Essex’s 350 mile coastline (2)), where it causes untold harm. This litter crisis has no boundaries, affecting our streets and seas alike and in spite of the tireless efforts of bin men, volunteer litter pickers and so many others, is still on the increase.

“The need to strengthen the action we as a society are taking to tackle litter is clear and ‘Be The Change’ was created with this firmly in mind. The programme challenges young people to be the change they want to see in their communities, inspiring them to take responsibility for the health of their environment. Heading to Essex, we had high hopes but nothing prepared us for the passion, commitment and creativity that the students showed!” Surfers Against Sewage’ Education Manager, Dom Ferris

Be The Change Essex – Step by Step

  • Schools – The six available spaces were quickly taken by; Oasis Academy Pinewood, RA Butler Infants and Juniors, Thames View Infants, Darlinghurst, Broomgrove Juniors and South Benfleet Primary
  • Homework – We first sent the schools their ‘Be The Change’ education materials* which, through interactive elements such as ‘Source to Sea Snakes and Ladders’ and ‘Anti-Litter Action Planners’, allowed the students to engage with the litter issue and begin to form their own ideas on how they might tackle it
  • Workshops – During the week of the 7th – 11th of November our education team delivered a series of ‘three step’ workshops in each of the schools to;
  • Inform – Providing the students with vital information on the threat that litter poses to our environment and the wildlife that live within it as well as the less visible problems it creates within our communities such as; reduced civic pride and increased crime rates
  • Inspire – TRASH MOB! Students were tasked with collecting as much litter as they could find in 3 minutes from their school grounds, helping them realise that they can make a difference and that however small it may be it’s always worth it!
  • Empower – Anti-Litter Action Planning – We guided students through the process of conceptualising, designing and presenting their own ‘Anti-Litter Action Plans
  • Digital Pitches – Schools then had just two short weeks to put together a ‘digital pitch’ for their plan and submit it to SAS HQ ahead of the Be The Change Essex Awards
  • Be The Change Essex Awards Live – Broadcast live on YouTube on December 1st, the event showcased a fantastic selection of ‘Anti-Litter Action Plans’. From Darlinghurst’s creative and clever ‘Trashy Trousers’ and Thames View’s engaging ‘Hero Bins’ to Oasis Pinewood Academy’s well thought out ‘8 Point Plan’ the expert judges*** found it difficult to choose a winner and the final scores were so close however one school stood out in the end
  • WINNERS! – SAS are delighted to announce that RA Butler Academy of Saffron Walden emerged victorious with their beautifully presented ‘House Bins’ plan. Gaining 232 points from a possible 300 the judges scored them highly on the knowledge, clear objectives and all important energy and enthusiasm demonstrated in their winning ‘Anti-Litter Action Plan’
  • Award Presentation – The RA Butler team were presented with their 3ft trophy and a giant cheque for £250 by Tracy Lynch of project sponsors the Greggs Foundation in front of the rest of their school during the last assembly of 2016. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Whilst the students of RA Butler Academy richly deserve their congratulations we want to commend each and every student they worked with this autumn as part of Be The Change Essex. The creativity, effort and care shown by these inspiring youngsters is a perfect example of positive community action and provides much needed hope in the face of the marine litter crisis facing our streets and seas.

If you’re school would like to get involved with our education programme please email us at [email protected] or call 01872 553001.


  • 1. Keep Britain Tidy, (2016). Clean for The Queen for Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
  • 2. Calculated using MCS’s figure of 3,298 items/km of UK coastline stat found here;