Reasons to be Cheerful about the Future of Litter

We have a problem as a nation when it comes to litter. The recent good weather again saw scenes of waste strewn in many outdoor spaces. For children, growing up in this sort of environment creates an unhealthy attitude towards littering and normalises it. As educators, we know we have a role to play in supporting children to care for their environment. What can we do?

Picker Pals is a free year-long environmental programme run by the environmental ngo VOICE Ireland. It has run in over 1000 primary schools to date and is making a real impact on the environment and children’s attitudes.

“I really enjoyed implementing this programme alongside my class this year. Every child took part and enjoyed all the activities involved in the programme. They have become very aware and enthusiastic about caring for the environment,”

Cassandra Dervan, Killeen National School.

Classrooms are provided with a ‘Picker Pack’ containing litter-picking equipment, readers, worksheets and teacher resources based around the colourful Picker Pals characters. Picker Pals TV episodes also provide news reports, a picture gallery and a craft corner with Picker Pals themed art activities.

The highlight for the children is when they get to take the Picker Pack home and lead their family on a litter-picking adventure in their local area. The Picker Pals experience creates a virtuous circle of healthy attitudes and behavioural change in participating schools, families and communities.

So what has it achieved? Last year, over 30,000 children took part in regular litter-picking adventures. Every weekend, thousands of children and their families were out and about tackling litter in parks, streets, beaches, playgrounds and estates all over Ireland. In total they picked up over 150 tonnes of litter – that’s about the weight of a blue whale!

Reasons to be cheerful (and why you should sign your class up for Picker Pals…)

• Children have a deep appreciation for nature and instinctively know it’s wrong to harm our natural environment, so giving them the opportunity to help out in a real and practical way is empowering.
• Education delivered at an early age has a real impact on behaviour. Picker Pals teachers have seen a real difference in their class’s attitudes towards litter and waste.
• Parents have noticed the change also with children requesting more environmentally friendly choices be made at home.
• Kids love getting out and about, especially if they are the leaders of the expedition. We are after all descended from hunter gatherers and litter-picking taps into our primaeval desires to seek, find, and collect.
• Kids love to be the star of the show and Picker Pals creates lots of opportunities for them to shine by sharing their litter-picking pictures, poems, drawings and stories.
• Teachers and schools love Picker Pals because it’s free, super easy to run and fosters greater connection with the families of their students. The programme is well-supported and provides regular opportunities for interaction, such as competitions, quizzes and live events.

“In my career I have been involved in an awful lot of different programmes and I have to say that Picker Pals was the best organised programme I have ever used. The box came, everything was so well explained and laid out. The children really loved doing the programme. The parents got involved, the children got involved, the grannies got involved. Everybody got involved. It was brilliant!”

Mairead White, Duagh National School, Kerry

A number of fully-funded places are still available for Picker Pals 2022-23. If you would like to get involved click here or see our website

How to sign up:

Signing up is super easy!

All you have to do is fill in the online application form here with all your school and class details. The Picker Pals Team will then process your application and get back to you to confirm if you received a spot.