Introducing our LiL Champions

LiL is starting a blog series recognising LiL Champions in our local community and further afield too. If you know of someone you’d like to nominate, please email

WITH a combined total of 35 years of litter picking,  John Lindsay and Claire East were our clear go-to people to start our LiL Champions series. It’s hard to imagine what our coasts and country roads would look like without them. Both describe litter picking as a ‘bug’ – and are hoping more people will catch it.

John has been cleaning East Lothian beaches for 23 years, latterly with dog Inca. “East Lothian has probably some of the best beaches in the world,” he says. “If we can do all a wee bit… and then when you get a beach pretty well clean, you feel a bit protective about it, a bit obsessive about it. It’s carried on from there.”

Claire is also a familiar sight to many, walking or cycling the county roads as she picks up strewn litter. It began when the A1 was extended to Dunbar, about 13 years ago.

“I suddenly saw it and it got to a level where I couldn’t not see it,” She recalls.

“I’m out here walking and on a bike anyway, so just pick it up. Don’t just go past it. It can grow like topsy… you keep doing a bit more. It’s a drop in the ocean but we don’t want that to go back to how it was before I started.”

Claire is hopeful there will be less litter to pick up with a drinks deposit scheme.

“The thing is most of it is recyclable, which is the really sad thing. 75% is aluminium cans, pastic bottles, glass bottles. There’s not a lot that would go in a general rubbish bin.” However, Claire says it is more difficult to recycle once it becomes litter – either she can’t physically find a recycling point close enough for her haul, or its no longer in a fit state.

John says the coastal rubbish reflects the industrial fishing off our shores, once picking up 50 lobster pots at Barns Ness, but says that there is an increasing greater awareness about litter from the industry now.

Both John and Claire called on others to do their bit.

“There are lots of people who go dog walking,” John says. “Even if they took a small bag. People are now much more aware and more likely to pick up litter.”

Claire’s husband Brian East, her jokingly “glamourous assistant”, called on cycling clubs to also adopt a county road or section where they train.

Brian also recalls some of Claire’s more unusual finds: “She’s found full bottles of wine. She found somebody’s wage packet one day. There’s gold in them there hills I can tell you,” he jokes.

“It’s a community service that she keeps a low profile about in general… but the number of people who know her, or recognise her or, or say, ‘use our bin’.”

Are you inspired? Will litter picking be your next LiL change? It can be as simple as “picking up three for the sea”. (That’s how I limit my kids and get moving when we’re running late and faced with litter.)

Let us know if you, or your cycling club or walking group will start picking up litter, by commenting here, on social media or we’d love to hear about it – and to let Claire and John know they’re an inspiration too.