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.
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.
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