Leith residents are being invited to become ‘flyspotters’ as part of a new campaign to reduce the dumping of rubbish on local streets led by environmental charity Changeworks. 

The dumping of furniture, black bags and other unwanted items on the street is known as flytipping, an illegal practise undertaken by a small number of citizens often under the cover of darkness. Research commissioned by Changeworks in January 2018 found that eight out of ten people surveyed in Leith thought that flytipping was a big problem which had affected them personally. One resident said:

“Sometimes it’s people from outside the area like landlords, including owners of short-term lets. They change the furniture in their flats and leave the old stuff on our pavements. But sometimes it’s lazy locals. A few selfish folk can spoil the street for everyone.” 

To tackle flytipping and make it a pleasure for people to be out and about in Leith’s streets and parks, Changeworks is working with the City of Edinburgh Council and a team of local organisations on a new project called Zero Waste Leith which is funded by Zero Waste Scotland and the European Regional Development Fund.

One of Zero Waste Leith’s aims is to develop and trial new approaches to helping a community achieve cleaner, greener streets. If these approaches are successful, they could be rolled out into other parts of Leith, the rest of Edinburgh and potentially other urban areas across Scotland. Changeworks commissioned Zsuzsa and Gerry Farrell of Gerry Farrell Ink, who also run the popular volunteer anti-litter organisation Leithers Don’t Litter, to design this anti-flytipping campaign for Leith.  

Zsuzsa and Gerry coined the term ‘flyspotting’ to represent a new approach to tackling flytipping. The term is to encourage the local community to become actively involved in ‘spotting’ and reporting flytipping incidences, supported by a visible campaign of posters, stickers and street stencils which say to potential flytippers “not in our neighbourhood”. ‘Flyspotting’ also gives a nod to the popular Trainspotting films, partly set in Edinburgh.

Hannah Milne, Zero Waste Leith Co-ordinator at Changeworks said:  

“From Monday 14 May we will be working with our team of volunteers to post a new ‘Sunshine on Leith’ magazine about flytipping through letterboxes in our pilot area. We’ll also be putting out posters, street stencils and ‘flyspotting’ stickers in the area, including a photo series on the railings of Dalmeny Street Park that show locals sharing their thoughts on flytipping. The community really cares about living on cleaner, greener streets – it was brilliant to see over 270 people taking part in litter picks we organised in the Leith area to celebrate Earth Day recently. We can’t wait to hear and see the response to the flyspotting campaign, and enjoying the clean streets of Leith!”

Transport and Environment Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said:

“This eye-catching campaign is bound to capture the interest of people in Leith and I’m delighted to see that locals are already getting into the spirit by taking part in recent litter picks.

“It’s this kind of community involvement that drives the Council’s own Our Edinburgh initiative, which has seen people across the city taking pride in their local neighbourhoods and discouraging those who flout the rules.

“I look forward to seeing the positive impact Zero Waste Leith will have on the area, alongside work under Our Edinburgh, and call on all ‘flyspotters’ to keep us posted!”

Flyspotting premiere event (free), 2.30pm, Sunday 13 May: Leithers are invited to the official premiere of the Flyspotting campaign at the On-Street Living Room installation in Dalmeny Street Park, Leith, at 2.30pm on Sunday 13 May. Be the first to see the railings portrait exhibition by Leith photographer Euan Myles, enjoy chit-chat with local legend Mary Moriarty, a flyspotting game for kids and refreshments afterwards in Out of the Blue Drill Hall (also the alternative venue in case of rain).

Follow Zero Waste Leith on Facebook for full event details and latest news.

Zero Waste Leith is part of the Zero Waste Towns initiative which forms part of the Resource Efficiency (Highlands and Islands and Lowlands and Uplands Scotland) operations of the £73 Million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Zero Waste Scotland.