Aug 18

A View from Dover – Why We Must Keep Litter-Picking


Peter and Adeline

Peter and Adeline

Two veteran anti-litter campaigners in Dover, Adeline Reidy and Peter Sherred, are applauding recent and continuing work undertaken by so many individuals, organisations and local communities to counter the increasing trend to drop litter and to deposit large items of rubbish and they are urging people not to waver in their clear up activities because the litter droppers do not give up.

They also have warm words for Dover District Council and Highways England with their agents Veolia in the exercise to clear the verges of the A2 and A20 earlier this year. The A20 was cleaned over 8 days from the Aycliffe Roundabout on the outskirts of Dover up to the Roundhill Tunnel, Folkestone, where an average of 6 men working on the road cleared 12 tonnes of litter, detritus and fly tipping! 4,980 kg of waste was cleared over 10 days duration with an average of 5 workers per day clearing the A2 as far as the Lydden lights.

The work of young carers, associated with the smART Project, is singled out for particular praise in their efforts to gather up rubbish from the beach where, sadly, people are adding to the problem of plastic and rubbish collections in the sea. Without in any way detracting from the efforts of so many civic minded people, who voluntarily clear rubbish, they are highlighting their own recent experiences and of a couple of other long term litter pickers trying to maintain some form of dignity for the town.

Dover Beach

Dover Beach

Long-term litter-picker, Ken Read (83), who for many years has patrolled Dover streets, spends time picking up litter in Harold St, Taswell St, and the area surrounding Dover Castle coach park, areas he regularly clears, often resulting in two full bags of rubbish being collected which, he said, is “indicative of the blatant disregard people are still showing about keeping their own environment clean”. He is sometimes told “that’s not your job”! and is of the view that social responsibility seems almost moribund now but adds “I do live in hope that more people will take up the cudgel”. 

Adeline Reidy, who earlier this year was made an Honorary Freeman of the Town, has focussed on keeping the area around Castle Street and Castle Hill Road clear of rubbish having reported to Dover District Council accumulated rubbish on the corner of Dolphin Passage going into the new St James’s Shopping Centre. A settee had to be removed from Russell Street and waste disposal operatives had to remove considerable rubbish from a parking area on Castle Hill Road caused by a flat change in the area. She has applauded the many flags and flowers that decorate the streets and enhance the area.  

Peter Sherred (70), a Past President of the Rotary Club of Dover in which he has been engaged in many litter pick events, has been active clearing rubbish from the roads leading into Guston and around the coach park for Dover Castle as well as Old Charlton Road. He was once asked by a member of the public “Why do you bother doing this – don’t you realise you are facing a losing battle?” Having spent considerable time one evening clearing Hangman’s Lane, Guston, and exposing a large pile of builders’ bags and other items in the process, all of which were reported to Dover District Council, within less than 24 hours he was driving down the Lane only to find 17 large and full mauve or black bags deposited at intervals along the verge he had just cleared. “This was not simply litter dropping but rubbish dumping on an industrial scale” he said, adding that the Council workforce was quick to respond to a report of these items and cleared everything away speedily. But why, ask Adeline and Peter, should they have to and why should the public have to pay for the clearance of these matters created by people deliberately and without any concern for the quality of our local environment? 

Guston Pickings

Guston Pickings

Honoured by Dover Rotary Club earlier this year with a top Rotary award for his community service John Morgan (71) was active in the first months of 2018 clearing three cemeteries and areas in and around Old Charlton Road. In the early autumn of last year he assisted the Rotary Club in clearing litter from St Mary’s Primary School playing field and surrounds when, among other items, an amazing 24 vodka bottles were collected as well as sacks of other items dropped or thrown by thoughtless people in close proximity to where primary school children play.

“The trouble is” says Mrs Reidy “we seem to live in a culture where it is deemed acceptable to throw our rubbish away on the basis that ‘they will clear it up’ – whoever ‘they’ are”. She has focussed her attention on the appearance of Castle Hill Road having requested Dover District Council to have the pavements swept thoroughly on both sides of the road. 

Asked what his response would be if someone else asked him why he does what he does and whether he, with others, is fighting a losing battle, Mr Sherred said “a Bill Clinton election quote, suitably amended, would seem appropriate: It’s a war, stupid, a war – and if one gives up the bad guys will win,” before adding “we all have a responsibility as stewards to safeguard the environment of the town we live in and love and thank heavens for the work of the many volunteers who routinely collect up rubbish for without their help we would be in a pretty awful state”. Both campaigners continue to urge everyone in the interests of the town to help clean up in the town, the beach and the surrounding areas and to those tempted to drop litter they have a simple message


Bag it or bin it. Do not drop it. Best of all – take it home!




Apr 16

Riverbank Litter

Tree BeforeAfter the dramatic and often devastating flood of last winter, communities are slowly returning to normal but what about the riverbanks?  Here in Rossendale, Lancashire we suffered badly with the River Irwell, only 4 miles from its source, decorating trees and shrubs with dead vegetation and that scourge of our waterways – polythene.

Sapling BeforeOur feeling was that we really needed to cut off at least some of the branches and try and remove the detritus from the rest.  We tried extended length loppers but the weight was a problem as we tended to be reaching out horizontally, rather than vertically.


With a bit of online research we found the Wolf Garten Multi Change range of equipment.  We bought a 4m extending handle, a pruning saw, branch hook and mini cultivator for Tree Afterless than £100 and took the whole lot on trial for a couple of hours in the rain!  Enormously successful but it’s a long process that is best undertaken when there’s minimal wind to blow away the plastic bag you so carefully retrieved!


Sapling AfterWhilst we’re investigating this however, a local couple and their 10 year old daughter spent Easter clearing another stretch of the river and collected 27 bags of rubbish!  The pictures tell their own story.


Roger Grimshaw

Publicity Officer/Litter Teams Manager



Dec 15

Beach Litter – Not Just a Local Problem?

You are walking along the beach and drinking a bottle of water, you finish the bottle and carelessly discard the bottle on the beach – after all, it won’t stay on the beach will it? The sea will “get rid of it” soon enough……..

Unfortunately this is the attitude of a large number of people who carelessly discard rubbish on the beach without thinking about the consequences. But the consequences are far reaching ones that are probably bigger than the majority of people think.

How Long Does It Take to Decompose?Turtle

Let’s look at some common items of rubbish found on a beach litter pick and see how long they would take to decompose if we didn’t litter pick them:

  • Polystyrene drinks cup – 50 years
  • Cigarette butt – 1-5 years
  • Aluminium drinks can – 200 years
  • Plastic bottle – 450 years

So these, along with other rubbish, can affect the environment in a number of ways. Firstly, from a cosmetic point of view, none of us want to walk on or sit on a beach covered in litter but this is the least of our worries. The effect it can have on the wildlife is just devastating. Tens of thousands of birds and animals die as a result of injuries caused by ingesting litter or getting caught in litter. Carrier bags, as one example, can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, so once they get ingested by a bird or animal they lodge in the gut preventing food digestion which can lead to a very slow and painful death.

Albatross BabyIn 2000 an 8-metre whale was found beached in Australia, it died shortly afterwards and a post mortem showed that the cause of death was that its stomach was tightly packed with 6m2 of plastic. According to a Greenpeace report “at least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris including seabirds, turtles, seals, sea lions, whales and fish. The scale of contamination of the marine environment by plastic debris is vast.” Just Google “beach litter and wildlife” and you will be met with a plethora of heart breaking pictures, that will make you stop and think.Gyres

But surely litter dropped here in the UK can’t affect wildlife on the other side of the world? Or can it…….? Well the answer to that is YES it most definitely can! So how do we know this? In 1992 a container ship on route from China to Seattle fell overboard near Hong Kong and its cargo of 29,000 rubber bath toys was launched into the ocean. These toys (many of them rubber ducks) have been appearing on beaches in Hawaii, Japan and Alaska, frozen in Arctic ice and even the UK appearing on a beach in Scotland in 2003 and Ireland in 2007.Rubber Ducks

These ducks have proved that litter dropped on beaches can not only survive for years but can travel for miles (17,000 in the case of some of the ducks) and this has also helped us find out about the existence of at least 5 ocean “gyres”. These are large patches of floating plastic found in the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. The North Atlantic gyre is said to be the biggest and is estimated to contain around 3.2 million tonnes of plastic and is around the size of Texas.

So what can we do?

  • Follow #2minutebeachclean on Facebook, or go to beachclean.net to find out how you can make a difference in just 2 minutes.
  • Talk about this blog and spread the news about how dropping litter on your local beach has global effects.
  • Join a local team on a beach clean-up, like Bennett’s Community Crew or the Dorset Devils.Dorset Devils 5

So next time you are walking along the beach, please think twice about “just” dropping your litter, you now know what far reaching effects this can have.

2015 Beach Blit (2)

Sarah-Jane Finch

Environmental Manager, Bennett Restaurants Ltd (Eastleigh, Hampshire)

“Bennett’s Community Crew”

May 15

Dorset Devils first talk in front of a live audience!

Well, the day had finally arrived when Dorset Devils (DD) would get the chance to speak to an audience- fellow residents of East Cliff, Bournemouth. Dorset Devils 1

Dorset Devils 2I arrived 2 hours in advance to secure table space inside the room and at the entrance to the hall to display all my LP paraphernalia and exhibits to capture my audience.

The hotel is just 300 yards from my home and I needed 3 trips to deliver everything by foot and trolley. LitterAction cards were placed on 50% of the seats in the room. I had jars filled with small plastics picked up off the beach just a few days earlier so people could see what they don’t see beside the seaside. Everything got a spin in our dish washer and was surgically cleaned!

Dorset Devils 3Let’s just say news of our very first official appearance had our audience standing in the aisles (90 chairs all occupied) and entrance to the hall for nearly 2 hours! In total we had 110 people there which included 6 Councillors and 2 MPs.

After 90 minutes sitting still, finally my turn to speak arrived. Scanning my audience after all the preparations and homework I had undertaken, I realised my written script needed radical alteration to tailor it to my audience who were generally not in the first flush of youth, if you know what I mean.

I stood up and started to speak but I was recommended I use the microphone, which I declined, but then some of my audience could not hear me! I moved to the middle of the room and spoke louder. Well, let’s say after I talked the talk I received the biggest applause of the day – not difficult after Councillors and MPs speaking but it was very satisfying.

Our Ward Councillor and his wife stated they appreciated our efforts in the community (just 5 in our group then) and were inspired by what we are trying to achieve.

On reflection, I should have recognised my audience better and ripped up my prepared speech, relaxed and spoken off the cuff like those on the head table. I did not fully get across the fun and satisfaction we, as DD, get being out there and engaging with Joe Public. This was my first effort speaking about Dorset Devils and the litter issue in front of an audience and given time I will get better I am sure. My colleague and I could simply have done a double act with our LPs and gloves in a comedy sketch maybe. This might have worked better and been more fun.

Dorset Devils 4Finally my ordeal was over. I like speaking to people a lot but not a captured audience like this. Yes, we made new contacts and yes, our local residents who turned up to the meeting to air their views on different subjects, got to hear about DD. We gained interest in what we are trying to do in the area and 2 people indicated they would consider joining up.  I received a firm promise from our councillors they would join us on a future beach clean, which I am pleased to say they did.Dorset Devils 5

A  well deserved drink or three of something cool was then ready for me at the bar!

Finally, Dorset Devils now have 25 local residents volunteering their time in the Bournemouth area and still growing.


Peter T Ryan
Dorset Devils Co-Ordinator
Helping Keep Bournemouth Litter Free

Jan 15

High-speed litter-picking

I’ve picked litter in some strange places in my time. I’ve scrambled down banks at the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel, trawled through the (shocking) contents of a yard behind a GP surgery and poked my picker through the bars of a fence separating a fish shop’s rubbish bins from the High Street. Nice.

I found 5 kilos of onions once, a chandelier, a gold bar (sadly not real), house key, car key, monkey (toy) and; well you get my drift. Nothing can shock me now. Or so I thought.

Until I boarded the very late 20.47 from Edinburgh to Kings Cross at York on 28th December. Must be on the wrong train I thought. This is obviously the train transporting Scotland’s festive filth to England for reprocessing. And yet there are seats. I take one. But not before brushing off a pile – I mean a stack – of sandwich wrappers, Coke and Fanta bottles, crisp packets and newspapers.  I pushed them onto the floor – it was covered in rubbish anyway – and I sat down.

Train Litter 4Train litter 1




I looked at the rubbish and thought “Hmmmmm – 3 hours to Kings Cross – can I really sit in garbage class for 3 hours? No!”.

I found the guard. Can I have a bin bag please? Sorry – none on board. I improvised – one occasion when I was glad to find carrier bags on the floor. I started picking by hand (wearing my cycling gloves). I picked crusts not eaten, noodles spilled, drinks unfinished, newspapers used to wipe up the aforementioned noodles, half a sandwich, unwrapped (sadly), little milky carton thingies – full and empty, spoons, forks, a cuddly toy (not really – not this time). Nasty.

Train Litter 3Train Litter 2

And then to prove every cloud has a silver lining I found – yippee!!!!! – an unopened bag of Wotsits – grab bag size!!!! Why do I litter pick? I can’t help it. Something inside me maybe. Like the Wotsits – yummy!!!!


By Mel Glass, founder of the Poplar Pick-up Party in East London

Sep 14

My Involvement with Litteraction

The problem of litter currently costs the UK economy 1 billion pounds a year to deal with. I decided to join my local group at Lee on the Hampshire coast because I like to take some civic pride in where I live and help improve the look of my neighbourhood. I always say that litter picking is quite therapeutic, as well as good exercise out in the fresh air. Our Lee group has picked up over 1,000 bags of litter in the last 4 years.

Bill Bryson (the author) once suggested that the “country is beautiful from the ankles up”! I might question this but can quite see his point. Whenever I finish an area I like to think it’s a job well done and, if I’m wearing my Litteraction hi-viz jacket, often get thanked for my efforts by passers by.

A difference can be made with a word in the right direction – in the past I have recognised a gap in bin placements – the point being that if there is no bin installed locally, how can people be expected to use them? In each case my criticism met with a positive result and new bin installed. I must admit that Gosport (my local authority) is very good with many bins installed all through the borough, so in theory there should be no excuse for rubbish lying around.

A clean area promotes a “feel good effect” with a sense of a safe, more welcoming neighbourhood that attracts less crime and vandalism. Our members regularly carry out beach and street cleans – during the winter storms we even found a domestic safe washed up on the beach!

Litter decomposition times make interesting reading:- most fruits – 2 months, cigarette butts – 10-12 years, disposable nappy – 550 years and plastic bags – 200-1,000 years. It makes the danger to wildlife, pets and humans very apparent.

How do we remedy the situation? Litterers can be summarised in 3 categories:-

  1. Wrapper droppers (who often don’t even look for a bin).
  2. Irresponsible dog owners who don’t clear up at all after their pet –  or bag the waste then throw it in the bushes rather than dispose of it thoughtfully. These people really annoy me!
  3. Rubbish thrown from car windows – no longer the driver’s problem, let someone else deal with it (often plastic bottles or fast food containers).

Where do we go from here? Well, education is important, particularly with children and to this end our group is involved with schools, councils and PCSOs to get the message across, which develops an increased awareness of the environmental consequences of litter.

Enforcement also helps with perhaps instant penalty costs for offenders (should they be ‘grassed up’ to the authorities and, perhaps, named and shamed?) I think that if littering was made socially unacceptable by the general population, it would make a major difference.

If you would like to join us, than please contact Graham Smith (see http://www.litteraction.org.uk/gosport-lee-litteraction) or speak to one of our members about our activities.

Jul 14

A view from Kazakhstan – Pick up litter and carry on by Vitaliy Kin

Come summertime, millions of people go to the nearest beach or mountain in search of a break from everyday life. I also go to nature, but upon arrival at a spot I often find much rubbish that has been left strewn around. While sometimes visitors collect refuse in a pile, they fail to actually dispose of it. They sometimes burn the pile of litter in an attempt to dispose of it, which is also not right, for it only decreases the volume of it and cannot burn it completely.


People know me to be keen on hiking, but I do not normally walk long-distance trails. Generally, I prefer no more than 15 kilometers of footpath, so I can do something special. Along the road I simply pick litter up which was left behind for ‘don’t know who’ to clean up and I carry it some distance to put the rubbish in its rightful place. I do so because I am convinced that the place for rubbish is at the dump, but definitely not high up in the mountains or downstream from river pools. In addition, this approach is the opportunity to provide public service on a volunteer basis, without actual participation in any programme.

I always bring my camera to photograph my natural surroundings, so I have been able to record the process.


In reality, some refuse won’t ever reach the landfill (a place where rubbish is deposited), and is going to decompose either around evergreen firs, or alongside rivers. Last weekend I cleared up the mountain by collecting kilograms of rubbish and brought it down to put in the container bin at my compound. Since there is no staff to collect refuse in the countryside, the only cure for the litter is us.

Blog photo 3 08.2014

For me Nature is the great joy indeed, and litter picking-up is far, far the easiest thing that I do. I have never talked about my concern about the spoiling of natural areas, and someone may find my concern ridiculous and useless, though I have realized that being seen out there picking up other people’s rubbish does get the message across to many that they shouldn’t litter.


Why do I volunteer to pick up litter? There are tons of reasons given, but you can still think of your own reasons. You might say how annoyed you are with the issue. You may complain about selfishness and careless of others. Or else, for a start, you can certainly pick up litter and carry on.

Jul 14

Flying the Blue Flag

Obviously there are significant benefits to living down here in Dorset; miles of open heath, stunning countryside, pretty stone villages and, of course, the world famous Jurassic Coast is on our doorstep. However, with every positive comes the inevitable negative and a big negative to living in such a beautiful part of the world is that everyone else wants to come and enjoy it!

I always view summer with mixed feelings. It’s certainly lovely to get outside with the dogs and enjoy the sun but along with its welcome (but all-too fleeting) appearance comes traffic jams and the dreaded ‘dog restrictions’.

Yes, as familiar a sign of summer down here as swallows, ice cream and wasps, certain beaches (from the May 1 until September 30) become ‘no go’ zones for our canine friends. It’s one of the strict requirements for the coveted ‘Blue Flag’ status that most of our premier resorts wish to gain and boast of in their advertisements and glossy brochures.

One of the key requirements (from a very long list of criteria) is that “access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled”. And, believe me, it is strictly enforced as I witnessed last year when a girl with a young exuberant puppy (who was on a lead) brazenly stepped a paw onto the hallowed sand and was loudly berated by some passing official.

We recently had a glorious weekend down here and in the evening we set off with the dogs for a walk along the promenade down to the ‘dog beach’. As we walked past the ‘dog free’ beaches I was quite literally dumbfounded by what I saw.

The beach resembled a municipal tip. The famous golden sands were strewn with plastic bags, fast food cartons, discarded nappies and, despite being an ‘alcohol free zone’, beer bottles. Through the thick choking smoke of countless cheap disposable barbecue sets (many of which had also been discarded on the beach and one had managed to set fire to a nearby bin) wheeled flocks of scavenging seagulls adding to the ‘tip-like’ ambience of the place.

Where was that over-zealous official when you needed him as families began to pack up and casually step over their bulging bags of waste left behind them for someone else to clean up? As I walked to the ‘dog beach’ I thought of that line in the Blue Flag criteria; “access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly enforced”. I wondered what the officials would think of the large rats (attracted by the litter that is all-too frequently dropped) that one can see most evening scurrying out from their homes under the brightly coloured beach huts or the foxes that stalk the beaches at night, again attracted by the humans’ leftover rubbish – and these brush-tailed interlopers don’t obey the ‘pick up’ mantra after doing their business in the sand. But, of course, these aren’t domestic animals (dogs), are they?

What a strange bunch we are in this ‘nation of dog lovers’ where dog faeces deposited on the pavement will provoke indignation, fury from Z-list celebs in search of a bandwagon and countless letters from the ‘Mr Angry from Purley’ types yet everyone is quite willing to turn a blind eye to the human-generated litter that fills our roadsides, woodlands, heaths and beaches. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loathe dog mess on our streets as much as the next person and feel that the perpetrators should be hit with the full force of the law but I would like to see some perspective shown. There should be a ‘zero tolerance’ approach for all litter and some decent penalties handed out for those who continue to do so.

Scenes like these are a national disgrace; something has seriously gone wrong for people to find it totally acceptable to treat a beach this way. Funnily enough, the beaches designated for ‘dogs’ are now havens of peace and cleanliness. Which would you prefer to sit on?


By Lee Connor, Dog World : http://dogworld.co.uk/

Jun 14

Quick Topic Communication Tool

‘The green bag fairy prefers finding artificial Christmas trees’, he says –  ‘something to do with the needles!’  ‘So that’s over 500 bags in the first four months of the year.’  ‘Parking at Tesco when I saw a chap walking towards traffic lights, he stopped to mess with something in his pocket. He then threw down a piece of paper, before crossing the road. I dashed out of the car and called him, only a few feet away. He ignored me. So I shouted “I think you’ve dropped a fiver” he stopped immediately and started back. I put the paper in his hand and he started to thank me “I thought it was….” and looked down. Nuff said. I didn’t say anything just left him looking!’

These are typical of the comments left on Quick Topic (QT), an online message board used by a dedicated group of free range litter pickers christened Lone Rangers working under the umbrella of Rossendale Civic Pride in Lancashire.

Keen to help to reduce the amount of litter but unable or unwilling to join in regular twice weekly sessions there are now more than a dozen of them who simply don a hi-viz vest, pull on a pair of gloves, pick up the litter picker and off they go.

The great benefit is being able to do solitary litter picking without feeling like a ‘billy-no-mates’ – out there picking up litter in isolation. Equally, feedback on grot spots, rants about litterbugs and thanks for help play an important part.

QT is a free service which requires minimal information and is easy and fast to set up.  Membership is by invitation only, from the originator of the topic, posts can then be made by email or direct from the site.  If you feel your group will benefit visit www.quicktopic.com to learn more.

Thanks to Rossendale Civic Pride Group for this article

Apr 14

Rubbish Verse

We are indebted to Sharon Cattermole of the Prittle Brook Community Group for her poetic musings on collecting litter as she departs for pastures new.


The Prittle Brook Wombling Song

Undergrowth, overgrowth, rambling Free

The Prittle Brook Community Group are we.

Making good use of the things that we find,

Things that the everyday folks leave behind.


Old shopping trolleys

Remember the time when we found the money outside the school

All those notes on the street

Paid for our tea and cake at Cornerstone Café


We are all organised, work as a team,

We keep the path tidy, and we keep it clean,

Undergrowth, overgrowth, rambling free

The Prittle Brook Community Group are we.


People do notice us, they always see,

As under their noses we may be

As we meet on our monthly task day

Looking for litter to trundle away.


We’re so incredibly, utterly devoted

Making the most of everything

Even metal and tin

Pick up the pieces and send them off to the scrap

Care of my Dad!


Undergrowth, overgrowth, rambling free

The Prittle Brook Community Group are we.

Making good use of the things that we find,

Things that the everyday folks leave behind.

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