Mar 14

Aberdeenshire Litter Initiative – ALi

ALi – a project promoted by Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum (AEF) – has been in operation for over 5 years with over 500 participants.  It is based on the ‘Adopt-a–Street’ concept from North America but without some of the formality and structure.

In the main, it consists of individual volunteers who agree to ‘adopt’ a street or open space of their own choosing and to keep it clear of litter at a frequency that suits their own level of commitment.  That level of input may vary according to the need and the lifestyle of the volunteer. The scheme is not policed or monitored.  In essence ALi seeks to recognise, support and encourage individuals who care enough about their local environment to be willing to do something practical about it.

ALi volunteers are primarily individual volunteers but the structure of our scheme is flexible enough to support participation from other groups of people (Scouts, Air Training Corps, Community Councils, horticultural groups, businesses etc.) without constraining how they want to operate.

While 500+ volunteers is a large number and is believed to be the largest such scheme in the UK, we believe that there are actually thousands of residents of Aberdeenshire (population c. 250K) who pick litter from outside their own homes in an unseen, unsung local hero way.

The administration of ALi is carried out under the auspices of a ‘Wasters’ sub-group of AEF comprising a number of former local authority and waste management professionals.  Volunteers are offered and encouraged to wear a Hi-Viz safety vest and use a litter picking stick both funded by Aberdeenshire Council.

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Dec 13

Some Street Friend Stories from Gosport, Fareham, Colchester & Suffolk


We are indebted to Graham Smith of Lee-on-the-Solent Litteraction who has sent us these stories :

I carry out a litter pick around my area every two days. The area covers Alver Bridge and much of Alver Bridge View. I also clear bikes, scooters etc. from Workhouse Lake. Thankfully this does not happen very often but when it does I ask Streetscene to pick the items up, which they have done so on the same day.

The area is well supported by two large litter bins and two dog bins yet still some people choose not to take any pride in where they live – enforcement is required.

Richard Gowen (Alverstoke, Gosport) 

Hill Head residents do not have any formal litter picking groups and the Fareham Borough Council beachfront litter picking employee is not operational during the winter months.  However, some of the seafront residents and beach hut owners keep their ‘patch’ free of litter and Tony Pepper and Linda Monk work a job share, conducting voluntary litter picking duties on behalf of Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve and cover the seafront Haven boundary and the historic sea lock.  The Fareham Society organise a thorough beach clean west of Meon Shore every spring.

Some of the litter is washed up with the tide; the rest emanates from various sources and includes the occupants of cars visiting the seafront, (mostly the remnants of fast food takeaways), rubbish left by fishermen, ‘used’ doggy bags left on the footpath (or hanging from trees!) and food scavenged by foxes from over-full litter bins.

Tony Pepper (Hillhead, Fareham)

When I walk along the beach I often think what would happen if nobody bothered to litter pick. We have probably picked up enough litter from the beach alone to fill two double decker buses over the last two years.  Many hundreds of Litteraction enthusiasts have more than likely collected the same or more all over the UK.  I believe it is time for action – let’s start by lobbying for more enforcement officers and tougher government action.

The whole point is we have to stop the dropping of litter.  I give my time freely to pick it up – let’s start charging people fortunes for dropping it.

Action-on-litter enthusiast, Mike Chapman (Lee-on-the-Solent)

The Give, Gain and Grow Volunteers litterpicking team can be said to be true ‘Street Friends’ of Town Ward. We regularly engage in litterpicking activities on our own account or in partnership with groups such as Town Cllr. June Cully’s Gosport Waterways Group or the 5th Gosport Sea Scout Group.  Our most recent cleanup was of Haslar Lake at its shoreline with Walpole Park.  We filled up a large number of sacks of rubbish filled with an assortment of flotsam and jetsam, in addition to extricating six supermarket trolleys, eight tyres, a vacuum cleaner, a mattress and a pushchair out of the lake. This was a great example of local groups, and especially young people, working together to improve the environment.  Please join us on Saturday 7th December at 9.30am outside Citizens’ Advice Bureau behind the Search Museum, for a cleanup of the Clarence Road and White Lion Walk area.

The Give, Gain and Grow Volunteers, funded by the Big Lottery and supported by Gosport Voluntary Action, are adults from Gosport and Fareham with mental health issues or a disability who support each other in carrying out volunteering tasks in the community in order to build confidence and self-esteem.  For further information contact Sue Greene on 07910 875079 or email givegaingrow@gvaprojects.org.uk

John Jeffs (Town Ward, Gosport)

I was walking along near the other sailing club, before The Shack. I came across a lady picking up litter from the narrow bit of wasteland between the beach pathway and the back road. Of course I stopped to chat with her. She said she cycles along there and every so often she can’t stand the litter anymore and clears it up. She had a large sack almost overflowing and pointed out that most were take-aways ! She said I was the first person that had stopped to speak to her. When I explained what we do, and where, she was so delighted, bless her, that she said hearing that she was not alone had inspired her.

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Oct 13

How To Be a Group and Yet Still “Do Your Own Thing”

So you want to make the area where you live cleaner and free of litter.  There is a local environmental group that does litter picking or maybe you and a few of your friends, colleagues and neighbours want to start a group of your own.  The problem is when?  No one can seem to find a day in their Diary that suits all.  The hectic lives we all lead; work, children’s taxi service, elderly parents, social life (what social life, haven’t got time for one of those I hear you say!), housework, the list is endless.  But you’d still like to do something.  How can this be done?  Easy!!  Civic Pride up in Rawtenstall, Lancashire is a voluntary group who go out and maintain neglected public gardens but, primarily, we are a litter picking organisation.

The problem of people wanting to join in and just do a bit but being unable to join our ‘official’ Civic Pride sessions on a Wednesday evening or Sunday morning was a constant barrier to these enthusiastic people being able to offer their services.  Not any longer – we now have something we have christened the ‘Lone Ranger’ club.  Each volunteer is issued with their very own litter-picker, brand spanking new pair of gloves, a really sexy, fashionable hi-viz vest and a supply of litter bags.  What do they do next?  Go pick litter folks!  These amazing people just take their kit for a walk (sometimes they also take a partner or child and probably the dog).  Armed with their equipment they then collect litter as they take their constitutional healthy walk.  At the end of the time they have allocated for this past-time they then leave their haul in a visible place near another litter bin which the local council will be emptying at some time in the future.

Now, here comes the clever bit…

One of these ‘Lone Ranger’s’ found a blog site on the web called ‘QuickTopic’.  Once QT is set up the individuals’ then post on the site where they have collected their litter from and any other information they feel like passing on.  “Weather rubbish but found a great grot-spot’ near the Dog & Duck.  3 bags of litter been left near the litter bin by the side of the Cemetery Gates.  If anyone is passing Frog Lane I saw this was in need of some TLC…” 

By using the ‘QuickTopic’ site folk are in touch with each other.  The “Loneliness of the Long Distance Litter Picker” (please excuse the dreadful misuse of the title of a wonderful film).  It gets even better; the Refuse Collection Department of our local council are also linked into QuickTopic – they get constant updates as to where they will find the full bags – hey presto: Do it when you feel like it, know that you are part of a group, get your local council onside and the system works like a dream.

Since this new concept came into being within Civic Pride earlier this year the difference in the amount of litter around is remarkable.  The ‘Broken Window Theory’ in action!  Sometimes we get postings which will say “went out this morning to pick some litter and didn’t manage to find enough to fill one bag – how disappointing, I was really looking forward to at least a two bag session!”

Give it a try in your neck of the woods and see how you go on.  One word of warning.  In Civic Pride we called in the services of our local Police Constabulary Support Officer (PCSO) who came and gave some advice on how to handle potential confrontations and what to do in case of an emergency.  We also have some printed Health & Safety Handbooks and some Risk Assessment sheets which are provided to the ‘Lone Rangers’.  No one has yet needed any as we are all sensible adults with our own, highly developed, sense of self preservation and a good old fashioned helping of Common Sense.

Hope it works for you.


Civic Pride Rossendale

email:  civic.pride.rossendale@gmail

web: www.civic-pride.org.uk


Aug 13

Scrub up your beach !

Just when most people are thinking about leaving the beach behind for another year, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is urging people to get back out there and do a bit of cleaning !

The annual MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend is held during the third weekend of September and sees thousands of volunteers heading to the coastline to help not just pick up litter, but record what they find too.

But why bother? After all what you find on a beach today may not be there tomorrow – swept away by the unpredictable tides. Why waste all that effort.

Well here’s why. Two years ago MCS volunteers found increased amounts of Sewage Related Debris on UK beaches….that’s the stuff people put down their loos but shouldn’t, like condoms, nappies and sanitary products – yes, people actually do that! It’s called SRD for short and there it was, in increasing amounts on British beaches.

Now does that trip to the beach seem a little less appealing? Just what are your children crawling about it in ? What exactly was that you felt between your toes ?

Well, after MCS highlighted the issue in the UK’s media, by the following year the amount of SRD on UK beaches had dropped. A year later MCS Beachcleaners  found an increase in the number of dog poo bags on beaches….filled with poo….but which had failed to reach the correct bin. So all this fossilised faeces was there on our beaches. Again, intense media interest and coverage across most of the country, led to a drop in the number of bags found the following year.

And the people that gathered that information that really made a difference ?  MCS Beachwatch volunteers.

So a trip to the beach in September may not be a lost cause….in fact it could be the most worthwhile trip you’ve taken for some time, enjoying everything there is to enjoy on the beach whilst giving it a clean up at the same time and possibly making a real difference to the future.

Join this year’s Beachwatch Big Weekend at www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch

21st – 23rd September 2013 – it only takes a couple of hours to make a world of difference.

Lauren Eyles

Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch Officer

Jul 13

Time for some creative thinking?

A few weeks ago Leeds City Council decided to deliver a knockout blow to the disease that is ‘littering’ by recruiting the services of 3gs, a specialist firm, to work alongside its existing enforcement team.  A team of four individuals will be charged with delivering no-questions-asked fixed penalty fines to anyone caught littering in the city centre. The project will run on a trial basis for six months.

A laudable initiative maybe, but certainly no game-changer.

I thought it timely to consider more creative initiatives.

I emailed a selection of Councillors a range of anti-litter initiatives with a view to encouraging some lateral thinking beyond the blind hope that enforcement will be the great panacea.

Here they are:

  • A 5% discount on a Council Tax bill if you can prove that you regularly commit time to improving your local neighbourhood. Financially, this may seem difficult to conceive of in a time of austerity, but the benefits for community cohesion and building a sense of local ‘ownership’ and civic pride, sadly missing in many areas, are huge. A ‘community action’ co-ordinator would need to be appointed, who could not only co-ordinate the action, but verify that a person had contributed so many hours of voluntary work per month as part of an agreed ‘neighbourhood improvement’ project. The question would be whether a 5% discount would be sufficient to generate enough interest from people wanting to improve their neighbourhoods. Set the discount too low, though, and nothing will happen.


  •  As part of the completion to a young person’s education, an obligatory spell of 4/6/8 weeks of voluntary action. I believe that this would be controversial initially and would have to be supported and delivered from a high level. But I also believe that this could kick-start a real engagement of young people with their own communities – if officially sanctioned, carefully planned and supportively carried out. It would present a generational shift: school pupils working for the good of their own communities and discovering the value of ‘doing good for nothing’, something we appear to have lost a long time ago. Alternatively, some incentivising or private funding might feature: as part of the deal, young people to receive privately-funded vouchers to gain free cinema tickets, discounts on meals or coach/train travel, for example. The whole ‘package’ would amount to a gesture of appreciation on completion of a person’s ‘voluntary service’. Private sector involvement would be vital here – time for the likes of Subway, McDonalds, Coca Cola, Walkers etc. to step up and play a bigger role!


  • Greater support from the Council for community clean-up initiatives. A community ‘link’ person, appointed by the Council, to specifically liaise with local communities and be a catalyst to facilitate local action. Someone who can offer guidance and practical support, galvanising people into action.


  • Council-sponsored anti-litter ambassadors to be the ‘eyes and ears’ of their local neighbourhoods. I can only relate how effective it has been for Guiseley, to have worked so closely with the local Council depot. Over 2,000 bags have been phoned through directly and promptly collected, full litter bins have been speedily emptied on request, hot spots reported and monitored, and local knowledge listened to.

These are just a few ideas. The alternative appears to be to simply keep fire-fighting and applying the sticking plaster of enforcement. Then 20 years hence, we will look around and all agree that nothing has really changed and that littering behaviour is still endemic.

Our elected people in power need to start embracing creative solutions which will genuinely impact on littering behaviour. The role we can play as volunteer activists can be to prompt and nudge our elected representatives into thinking beyond the jaded notion of enforcement as the universal remedy.

We need to roll out our ideas to the people with the power to deliver them. They may take years to come to fruition, but could well be worth the wait.

Jeff Yates,

The Litter-Free Guiseley Campaign,


Jun 13

Why clear the Wye ?

A few years ago the River Wye was voted the country’s favourite river (2010). It rises high up on the slopes of Plynlimon, flows down through the moors, over falls, through stunning gorges, gentle sheep country (picking up equally beautiful tributaries) out of the Welsh stone into the lush pasture and plough land of Herefordshire to cut through the rock again at Symonds Yat, to deliver to the tide of the Bristol Channel. Over 1,000 miles of river and stream bank brimming with wildlife from end to end – you would think.

But, the river suffers – the things we can’t see : the abstraction, the chemicals, the fertilizers, the pesticides, the sewage – all are killing that river by a thousand cuts.

The things we can see are sinuously wrapped around the roots and stones, hanging from the tree branches over the water, scattered along the high water mark of the last flood or tipped in down the banks. The birds die, the fish are killed, green algae oozes and sharp objects penetrate the canoes, the waders and those little paddling feet.

We had to do something about it – The Wye and Usk Foundation with the help of Keep Wales Tidy, River Wye Preservation Trust and many others have taken 10 years to clear just over half of it. The first few years small teams, often with diggers, would clear particularly bad areas – bad fly tips, the worst dumps, piles of cars etc.. Over the last 3 years a more concentrated effort has been made to clear 100 miles of river and stream a year.

We must work with the weather and the seasons – February to the end of April gives us a window that is after most of the winter floods and before the undergrowth grows up and birds start nesting. It sometimes gets too dangerous with the rivers in flood or the roads blocked by snow.

The job involves looking at the map and choosing a length of river. Long hours on the phone getting permission from the many farmers, riparian owners and other interested parties – more map work, decide where to meet, make lunch, check the weather forecast, the water levels, pick up a car full, drive perhaps 40 miles, meet up with the others – litter pickers, bags, instructions, H&S, maps again — ‘you do that bank from that bridge down to that bridge; you do from that bridge, on the other bank, up to the road’ etc, etc. on and on.

We meet up a few hours later, have a sandwich and listen to the chatter – did you see the dipper/the peregrine/the salmon ? Or I found an oven/a set of stairs/a rubber duck ! Eventually we collect up the rubbish for disposal by the council and perhaps get a group photo. Often it’s 30 sacks of litter with perhaps 60% coming from farming origin, numerous tyres, drums (sadly sometimes with concentrate still in them), buckets, batteries and other delights. Everyone is tired and dirty but strangely satisfied that a little bit more has been done.

So far, over 500 volunteers have cleared well over 600 miles of riverbank of 2,200 odd bags/items of rubbish. They all have a passion for the river.

May 13

The role of litter bins in reducing dropped litter

The litter picking done by the many LitterAction volunteer groups throughout the UK is highly commendable and makes a real difference to the cleanliness of our outdoor areas. The efforts of the litter pickers could be greatly helped by installing more litter bins. Whilst this would not fully eradicate litter it would greatly help the problem with less litter being dropped. There will always be a mix of attitudes towards littering and these can be split into three groups of people; those that never drop litter and always ensure that their litter goes in a bin regardless of whether there is one close by; those that make no effort to put their litter into the bins; and those that will dispose of their litter into a bin if there is a bin close by and it’s made easy for them to dispose of their. By providing sufficient numbers of litter bins it is this third group of people that will drop less litter. 48% of people admit to dropping litter (source: http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/KeyIssues/Litter/Default.aspx) and I believe many of these people would not drop litter if there were more bins for public use.

To be effective, litter bins need to be emptied regularly – there’s no worse sight than an overflowing litter bin. Councils can be contacted to empty litter bins should there be a council-owned litter bin that is full and needs emptying. I would encourage everyone to do this should they see a full council-owned litter bin. Please also do the same and contact the relevant organisation for any other overflowing bins in public areas as when bins overflow litter often gets blown around by the wind, creating a worse litter problem than if there been no bin present at all. Litter bins with fully open tops are the worst offenders for this. When purchasing an outdoor bin where there is a possibility that it could overflow, choose a litter bin with a lid to minimise this problem.

There is a broad range of different types of litter bins available to meet different needs. Traditional style litter bins that have a modern construction are a popular choice. Their aesthetically pleasing design combined with a high density polyethylene construction allows traditional appearances to be retained whilst keeping costs low and providing a much longer usable life. Most new litter bins also come with ‘TidyMan’ logo printed on them, this universally recognised symbol provides a clear visual reminder to put litter in the bin.

By Lee Newell from ESE Direct, a UK-based supplier of litter bins

Apr 13

Attitude and acceptance

In our ‘throw away’ society, some people drop their litter on the ground even though a council rubbish bin might be only inches away. I joined the Lee Litteraction group to help remedy this situation and work towards an environment that we can all be proud of – when I see how clean other countries are it almost makes me feel ashamed of our streets.

I personally look after my local park, children’s playground and surrounding roads. Every citizen needs to be morally responsible – sadly not all children appear to be taught this important lesson; my grandchildren wouldn’t dream of chucking their rubbish on the ground. The most satisfying feeling of being a grandparent is seeing the values you put into your children being passed on to the next generation. A lot of young people seem unaware of the consequences of littering with regard to biodegrading times and the effect on wildlife.

Until littering is deemed socially unacceptable (as well as illegal) by the mass population we will always need volunteers to help keep our roads, open spaces and beaches clean and to fight the litter louts.

I find the work quite therapeutic – I once came home after a 2 hour pick after suggesting I might return in half that time, also if you think you will fill 1 bag you will probably fill 2 or more! I light-heatedly call it ‘my   community service without doing the crime’. Of course you have to be careful what and how you pick up the rubbish – safety has to be the primary concern.

I was recently successful in getting a bin placed on a local road where none existed before – at least it negates the excuse that there “were no bins around”.

We advertise events such as beach cleans on the internet, church newsletters and magazines and have tried to make businesses more pro-active by giving them free pickers and encouraging them to sponsor a bin. This dialogue has resulted in a fast-food company allowing some of their employees to swell our ranks on the last 2 beach cleans. We accept any help offered !

The neighbourhood beat PCSO [Police Community Support Officer] has encouraged the nearby primary school to support us – a recent cleanup brought in 20 young helpers. This is the ideal age to educate…. I feel councils need to do more to teach the kids and also highlight the benefits of recycling. Happily out efforts have been acknowledged by the Mayor, the Council and the general public – it’s gratifying that our contribution has helped to improve our environment. A few months ago I watched a lad open a chocolate bar and immediately throw the wrapper on the ground. I asked him how he thought the wrapper might get into the bin (which was only 10 yards away). To his credit he picked up the wrapper and put it in the bin, after which I thanked him. Conversely, I overheard a father telling his son that littering “kept a council worker employed” ! How do you deal with an attitude like that ?

In some states of America littering penalties are 1,000 dollars (approximately £640). Should we increase our fixed penalty from the current £80 – would this action have the desired effect ? In the US I see they advertise which groups have kept the highway clean – should we follow suit?

My pet hate is bagged dog waste thrown in the bushes. It’s the owners that are irresponsible, not the dogs; how on earth do they expect these items to decompose?

I recently cleared 2 local lanes near my golf club – a session which lasted over two and a half hours resulted in a bag full of general rubbish and another containing 158 cans which are now in my recycling wheelie bin – the only downside was that my wife wasn’t too happy I’d been out so long !

I realise that this work is an uphill struggle but anything that helps improve the look of our town has to be a success in itself. It seems to me that the key aspects are ATTITUDE and ACCEPTANCE.

David Ede (Lee Litteraction)

Mar 13

A View from Gosport

When I talk to people, observe people, read articles or watch documentaries regarding litter and climate change to me they are intrinsically linked and, unless any government or local council does not understand this, I believe we will never achieve the goals most of us want.

Recently, I was watching a programme on BBC1 Tuesday 19 Feb called “Litter Wars”. One courageous woman was trying to keep her town and area clean by politely telling people that when they drop litter it was the wrong thing to do. The documentary went on to show some other people who were calling her a busybody and should not be telling people what to do. I remember when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister she was so appalled at the amount of rubbish she had seen travelling back from Heathrow to Downing Streetthat she headed a campaign against litter. Our leader was actually showing us how to pick the stuff up all neatly displayed in a beautiful Londonpark. Great I thought, this is the head of the country against litter, a change is gonna come. Well no, I cannot say it has got any worse but, I can say, there has certainly been no revolutionary change – litter as normal so to speak.

There are countless voluntary litter pick groups, organisations and endless campaigns all aimed at getting us to keep our environment clean of rubbish, but who is the target audience for these well meaning campaigns? Is it the person seen on the same documentary proudly extolling his freedom to flick his cigarette butt wherever he wants to ? I think not. Or the people who think that telling a fellow citizen that it is wrong to discard their waste in the street, again, I think not. I believe the feckless, ignorant and the lazy is the target audience but they are not the sort of people to be swayed by cosy articles of well meaning folk who continually clean up after them. 

Is there any hope? Well there are 15 councils who have in my opinion decided to really tackle the issue and employ a company called “Xfor”. To date they have issued nearly 64,000 tickets making themselves £45 for each fine along the way. At last a positive move, I embrace this approach but again there have been complaints about the wardens being overzealous or ignoring pleas of “it was only a cotton bud”. It is obvious that some people have no sense of pride within our communities. They do not notice or care about the litter and graffiti that surrounds them or the seas we pollute, for them global warming is just a nice warm fire. Politicians love to say how much they support the prevention of climate change but what is the point? We could save millions of pounds if we just do what we are supposed to do, dispose of all waste in the correct manner – politicians, just make it happen? 

I also caught part of a programme shown on BBC2 News Night, another snap shot of the problem we are facing. It featured the results of plastic found inSouthamptonwater after a small drone had been dragged for about 10 minutes. Yes, the amounts were small but it was explained how long the environment takes to break plastics down, as opposed to other types of litter. The attention was then turned to the people who manufacture plastic for our drink bottles etc. As the spokesperson pointed out, there is nothing wrong with plastic, we want it back, we want to recycle it and so we can use it again. He did not spell out the obvious but I will – it is people who are polluting the sea and the planet, we are the polluters whether it is a drink can, cigarette filter or industrial waste – it is all gut-retching stuff that does not belong in our seas.

 When I moved toGosportjust over a year ago, I joined the local community group, I litter picked, I also started a local litterpick group and I regularly clean up my own area. I have even reported people for throwing a television into the nearby lake – this involved the police and the local MP. I have hauled items out of the lake, I have been doing what I can when I can. However, I have now reached the point that I am going into semi retirement regarding litter action. I am not doing more than my own immediate area unless I see some form of government, big or small, that will tackle the problem head on. Namely against the relatively small amount of people who are continually creating the rubbish we have to live within our society.  

Just a final note, as I look out of my window I can see a discarded plastic bottle on the grass verge – part of the area that I had cleaned up yesterday ..

Richard Gowen

Jan 13

Making a difference with Appleby Litter Pickers

Someone asked me recently why we bother spending time litter picking. ‘What makes you want to pick up other peoples’ litter? It will all be back before you know it. Why bother’?

There are times when I wonder why we DO bother! And what is it that motivates us to go out armed with sacks and litter pickup sticks, to march down the road collecting cans, bottles, cigarette packets, fast food packaging, half eaten take away meals loosely wrapped in the abundant packaging – tray, sachets, paper cup and on occasion all helpfully contained within the bag it was bought in in the first place. Crisp packets, chocolate bar wrappers, sets of drinks cans strewn over a few metres, plus the plastic collar that held them together a few strides later. The list is endless! It doesn’t deter us though. In fact it actually encourages us to keep on ‘picking’!

The whole thing about litter picking for me and my husband, grandly known as the Appleby Litter Pickers, is the fact that we CHOOSE to litter pick. And we do it for a number of reasons.

Number one is ‘because we can’! No one forces us to go out. No one dictates when we will litter pick. We do it when WE want to, when WE feel like it. It works for us!

Secondly, we do it for the exercise! We keep three sets of roadside verges leading out our village tidy, roughly covering three miles in each direction. We can easily maintain each stretch in a couple of hours following the initial ‘deep clean’ we performed a couple of years ago. We park at one end, march along at a brisk pace, grabbing litter without a pause. We hop into our pickup truck parked ready at the other end and then drive back, picking up the neatly tied bags as we go. Job done! Home for a mid morning coffee, leaving the day free for our ‘jobs’!

Second equal, we do it to show, quite simply, that it can be done! Even a small litterpicking group of just two can make a difference! We have to drive those routes regularly and so we benefit from the improved visual amenity. It really irritates us when we drive along roads and have to look at litter bestrewn verges, resembling overspill from an open landfill site!

There are times when we don’t feel like going out litter picking at all. When there are other jobs needing doing; the garden requiring our attention, the cars needing a wash, or when we fancy going out cycling. And in our minds it just doesn’t matter! The litter will still be there when we DO want to go pick it up and something always spurs into action.

I was thinking about this when that friend asked me what drives us to do it.

Last weekend it was someone I heard on the radio saying he decided he could make a difference to Mt Snowdon! He walks up there with his sacks collecting discarded litter. He too does it because he can make a difference. I thought, ‘Well, if he cares enough to tackle a mountain, surely I can manage Ermine Street’, and off we went again!

A few weeks ago another friend telephoned bemoaning the litter on the lane behind her house. I suggested she simply nip out with a bag and gloves and sort it out. She declined saying she would feel daft!!!!! Haha! But she has now agreed to pop out with a bag every now and then. Out we went and we didn’t feel remotely daft! The litter was causing a problem, twenty minutes later, it was gone! No big issue. Hopefully she realised just how easy it was and will now keep it tidy for herself.

I think people are driven to litter pick for diverse reasons. Once you find a way that fits in with your lifestyle you will always feel like doing it. Yes, there will be times when you don’t want to bother, but inevitably when the time is right, something WILL spur you back into action. If anyone is thinking about giving up altogether, I would say to them not to think of it as being forever, just that you feel like a break.  That is why how we do it works for us, we are not forced to go at a set time, in fact sometimes when we get up we don’t expect to go out at all, then the day progresses and we will look at one another and say, ‘are we going then’! I wish I could pinpoint exactly what it is that makes us say that!

The litter isn’t going anywhere! Each and every bit of litter only needs to be picked up once, and above all, it means you care enough to do something positive.

Anita Cross



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