Nappies and face masks are among the items found littering a beauty spot in recent weeks as campaigners urge people to take their rubbish away with them.
Zero Waste Scotland is running the second phase of its Scotland is Stunning – Let’s Keep It That Way litter prevention campaign which aims to raise awareness of the harm done by littering amid concerns the problem has worsened during the pandemic.
New research from Zero Waste Scotland found that almost half (46%) of the population have become more concerned about protecting the environment since the start of the pandemic.
More than a third (37%) of respondents said they are very concerned about protecting the natural environment, according to the survey of 1004 adults in Scotland between February 18 and 24, 2021.
However, campaigners say litter is still blighting many beauty spots such as Cairngorm Mountain where staff regularly have to pick up litter including plastic bottles, cigarette ends, abandoned barbecue trays, face masks, wet wipes and bags of dog mess left dangling on trees.
Ruari Macdonald, senior ranger at Cairngorm Mountain, warned that litter can be damaging to wildlife as well as being unsightly.
He said: “It’s been widely documented about face masks, birds can get tangled up in face masks or just general wildlife so it has a negative effect if there’s lots of rubbish, that’s why we try to tidy up as much as we can and get people to be that bit more careful.”
He added: “I think over the last 12, 18 months it’s been noticeable the amount of extra litter that’s happened because of lockdown, people’s behaviour slightly changing etc so the more litter we can put away and people can actually remove themselves it’s better for everybody and makes coming here on a visit more enjoyable.
“Anything that anybody can do better it’s always better for the environment, better for the landscape, better for the wild animals and it just makes the place look cleaner and tidier.”
Zero Waste Scotland is running the campaign in partnership with the Scottish Government.
The initiative, backed by comedian Janey Godley, aims to encourage people to bin their litter or take it home with them.
Claire Munro, of Zero Waste Scotland, said it is running the campaign after the success of last year’s initiative which was launched to coincide with tourism re-opening in Scotland
She said: “We were getting some reports of littering again this year and also with restrictions loosening up and more people from across Scotland being able to go out and about ourselves and our partners felt that we wanted to get out in front of the issue this year with a positive message about binning your litter and taking it home to try and anticipate any issues.
“Also in addition to that we did do our survey which showed that the majority of people think litter is a problem in their area and also just over a third think it got worse under the pandemic so there’s definitely a perception out there of increased littering during the time of the pandemic.”
She added: “We really wanted to highlight if you are taking a trip to an outdoor place whether it’s a park or a hillside or a woodland or a loch or whatever it is to think ahead and make sure you are going to take your litter back with you so bring a bag with you.”