A SCHOOLGIRL told a council chairman about her mission to rid her local area of rubbish.

Chiara Rutherford, ten, from Fishburn, was invited by Cllr Katie Corrigan, Durham County Council’s Chairman, to talk about her efforts to clear litter in order to help the environment.

The youngster has been working hard to clean-up her local area, even completing regular litter picks on her walk to and from school, often adding half an hour or more to the journey.

After noticing the amount of discarded waste along the route, Chiara, who is a pupil at St William’s Catholic Primary School in Trimdon, was inspired to make a difference to the area.

She said: “I began by just picking up odd bottles and cans on my way to school and putting them in the bin, then I started to organise full litter picks to get rid of as much rubbish as possible and recycle it where we can.

“It’s such a waste when people throw away items which could be recycled, and it looks really bad too.”

She now hopes to encourage her school council and Brownie group to organise regular litter recycling initiatives too.

Chiara’s father Patrick said he was incredibly proud of his daughter and the pair plan to continue their fight against waste, saying there will always be more to do.

The family have signed the No Plastic Waste petition and recycle items generally considered non-recyclable, such as toothpaste tubes and crisp packets, through the TerraCycle initiative.

Writing to the elected councillors for her area and local newspapers, Chiara also strives to raise awareness of the need to recycle and reduce waste by highlighting the issue and making them aware of her work.

She said: “It’s amazing how much rubbish people throw on the ground or out of their cars, especially drinks cans and fast food packaging.

“I wish people would take better care of the area and get rid of their litter responsibly instead of making a mess.”

Chiara noticed that it doesn’t take long for the areas she has recently cleared to become covered with litter again, but she knows that her efforts are appreciated as people often stop her to praise her for her work, proving that people acknowledge the difference she is making.

Chiara was joined on the visit by her father, brothers Giacomo and Matteo, and uncle Luigi, all who support her litter picking, and she was congratulated and thanked by Cllr Katie Corrigan.

Cllr Corrigan said: “Chiara should be very proud of the work she’s doing. It’s great to see young people who are passionate about protecting the environment and improving their local area.

“The council works hard to keep our county litter-free but volunteers like Chiara are invaluable in helping us to tackle the problem. She is a real inspiration. I hope her story helps to act as a reminder to people to dispose of their litter correctly.”

Individuals, organisations and community groups who are inspired by Chiara’s efforts can request support from the council to organise their own litter picks.

More information is available at www.durham.gov.uk/bigspringclean or by emailing litterfreedurham@durham.gov.uk