Owen, John & Rik shine in Litter Wars – BBC One

by Lisa McGarry

Litter Wars

Thirty million tons of mess is dumped on Britain’s streets a year, prompting an army of litter freelancers to take matters into their own hands – literally. From dog poo action groups to organised ‘litter-picks’, Litter Wars meets the volunteers up and down the country who have dedicated themselves to ridding our streets of rubbish.

From ex-convict Owen who has cleaned up his act and makes a living recycling the rubbish he picks up at festivals, to flame-haired Manuela who’s dedicated herself to keeping Andover’s streets clear of cigarette butts, Litter Wars follows several colourful vigilantes who’ve waged war on waste.

Church Stretton in Shropshire is extremely green and pleasant, and ex soldier and teacher John is determined to keep it that way. Picking up litter unpaid, John isn’t afraid to approach those who are careless with their castaways – once even attempting a citizen’s arrest.

Litter Wars

“It’s just such a beautiful vista we feel ownership somehow, stupidly I know. But I think that’s what drives me to look at our town as something very special,” he explains.

Down in Liskeard Cornwall, warehouse owner Rik is dogged by dog mess. Prowling the streets looking for fresh deposits, Rik is determined to make the council sit up and take notice. He regularly records dog walkers and has mounts early morning video stakeouts in an effort to deter would-be foulers.

“The council has said that if I get evidence of people fouling and present it to the council they will prosecute,” Rik says hopefully.

In the bracing Yorkshire Dales, there’s something unpleasant in the air for couple Jill and Matthew. Disgusted by the amount of dog mess in the aptly named Shutt Lane, Jill has launched a vigorous campaign – led by the Cross Hills and Glusburn Dog Fouling Action Group – to prick the conscience of those who let their pets poo near the local primary school.

And proving where there’s muck there’s brass is self-styled ‘can man’ Adrian who has waged his own personal war on discarded drinks cans. Recognised by Leicester’s mayor for his services to the environment, to date Adrian has collected 50,000 drinks cans – and earned himself £250 supermarket vouchers in the process.