A joint campaign featuring people who live and work in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park has been launched to urge people who visit the area to ‘love it like a local’ and take their litter home.
People are being asked to show their respect for their favourite day-trip or overnight destinations and treat them as they would want their own home to be treated.
The campaign reminds everyone who loves the National Park that they can play a part in looking after it, simply by binning their litter or taking it home.
This initial phase of the ‘Love It Like a Local’ campaign is a collaboration between Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, people who live and work in key towns and villages, and the four local authorities covering the area. The campaign is designed to send a strong message: that littering is not acceptable within the National Park, but responsible visitors who bin their litter or take it home with them are always welcome.
It comes as the easing of lockdown restrictions has seen a ‘pressure-cooker’ effect of people keen to get out into the countryside but sadly, some have left extensive amounts of litter to be cleaned up afterwards.
The National Park’s most popular areas have experienced a high volume of visitors since lockdown restrictions began to ease, whilst public services remain stretched due to ongoing COVID-19 challenges. Most people do the right thing and clear up any mess they create, but those who don’t have had a disproportionately negative impact on both the environment that people come here to enjoy, and on the experience of others around them, whether that’s other visitors or people who live and work in the area.
Some have shown little respect for the area and left huge quantities of litter, ranging from entire abandoned campsites and discarded clothing, to bags of picnic rubbish, bottles and cans strewn across beauty spots and local villages.
Building on the special place the National Park holds in so many people’s hearts, the call to ‘Love It Like A Local’ will be brought to life by featuring photos of people who live, work in or care for the National Park, targeted trial signage at sites that have suffered from littering, and a social media campaign which will reach visitors before they arrive. Campaign materials are being made available to local communities to display in their villages too.
The campaign will be complemented by the ongoing work of the authorities within the National Park who deliver litter picking and bin servicing, which have been put under strain due to COVID-19 restrictions, and also the enforcement work of partners, which most recently saw 21 people charged with irresponsible camping, littering and fire-lighting behaviours. These strands of litter work are all incorporated within the National Park’s upcoming Litter and Waste Prevention Strategy.
Gordon Watson, said: “Whether you live, work or visit here the National Park it’s a special placed loved by many.
“At this time, when people have been unable to visit for so long during lockdown it’s understandable that people are desperate to get out and visit their favourite places or try somewhere new.
“Sadly, while visitors provide a welcome boost to the area, particularly in terms of the recovering tourism economy, people who live and work in the National Park’s most popular towns and villages have had to witness extensive littering since lockdown restrictions began to ease. It is devastating to see people show such blatant disregard for a place that you cherish.
“So, we’re asking people who love the National Park to ‘love it like a local’ and respect the area; it’s environment and its communities by treating it the way you’d want people to treat your home.
“The ask is simple, bin your litter or take it home. If bins are full or there are none because you’re in a rural area, bag your litter and take it away with you.”
Local people are putting their names and faces to the campaign to bring it home to those littering that they are affecting real people’s lives. The campaign is being supported by local authority partners.
Councillor Robin Currie, Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Housing, Roads and Infrastructure Services, said: “The National Park is one of the most stunning areas with Argyll and Bute, so impressive that it attracts international film and television productions. This is great for the area and for Scotland.
“So it’s heartbreaking that there are some people who don’t value this precious resource. I can’t stress enough how important it is that everyone respects the National Park and the communities that live within it. Please – treat it as if you lived here too. Be responsible for your own litter.”
Councillor Jim Thomson, convener of the Environment & Housing Committee at Stirling Council, said: “The National Park area boasts some of Scotland and Stirling’s must stunning locations of natural beauty.
“It’s no surprise people have flocked here as lockdown restrictions have eased but places like this only stay beautiful if everyone plays their part in looking after them.
“Some people might only be here for an afternoon, but the careless and selfish actions of a minority have a lasting impact on the environment and the people who live in these small communities.
“It’s not fair to expect someone else to pick up after you just because a bin is full, so don’t spoil it for the majority, take your litter home and love these areas like a local by cleaning up after yourself.”
Vice convener, Councillor Danny Gibson added: “There is no excuse for dropping litter and leaving it for someone else to pick up.
“If you’re not prepared to respect the area you are visiting and the people who live there, then you’re not welcome.
“It’s time to take responsibility here and realise the impact that these avoidable acts of littering have not only the environment, but the already stretched resources of these rural communities.”
Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development at West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “We are lucky enough to have some of the most spectacular natural attractions on our doorstep and we are more than happy to welcome visitors because we know they love them too.
“All we ask is that at the end of their visit, they do the right thing and either dispose of litter responsibly in one of the many bins provided, or if this isn’t an option, bag it and take it home to dispose of.
“We want our beauty spots to stay beautiful for us all to enjoy, so please love them like a local.”