Litter picking for the Jubilee

The Queen’s Jubilee has inspired people to plant trees, hold street parties and light beacons. However, Carbon Neutral Albourne’s Ros Oswald decided to start the celebrations by picking up 70 pieces of litter instead. Here she talks about her experiences of litter picking and the positive effects it can have.

“I have had my eye on a big patch of litter just off the Ridgeway near Snap ever since we found it on a New Year’s walk. I enjoy litter picking because it makes life safer for wildlife and (being nosey) I love to see what strange things people leave behind. It’s also a good way to get some exercise and Molly the dog likes to search around in the undergrowth whilst I am sorting out the rubbish.

The big patch consists mainly of bottles (some broken), cans, plastic bottles and nitrous oxide canisters all of which have been in a big bonfire. There is also some general rubbish.

For the first 70 pieces, I went for a mix of cans and bottles so that it was not too heavy to carry on the one-mile walk back to the car. So far, so good. The only problem was that the pile did not look any smaller, at all. Clearly this was a big job. I decided the slow but steady approach was the way to go.

After another 4 visits with 2 carrier bags per visit, it was obvious that I needed a new approach for the glass bottles which were too heavy for me to carry. I realised I had a shopping trolley which I could line with a bin liner. Although the trolley was noisy as we bounced along the track it was definitely the easiest way to remove the 40 bottles that fitted in. It was much quieter on the way back as the weight of the bottles reduced the bouncing. I could hear the robins, wrens, great tits and skylarks that were serenading me. I like to think they are thanking me although I suspect the robin is telling me that I am trespassing on his patch and need to clear off!

With 11 carrier bags removed plus the shopping trolley bottles, the patch is just beginning to look smaller. I was so thrilled to find that underneath the mound of rubbish there were fresh green shoots trying to fight their way through. I thought the damage done by the fire would have made the soil useless for plants but the plants have other ideas. I am probably about halfway through the clearing up task now and enjoying the warmer weather. I realise litter picking is not everyone’s idea of a good day out but with the support of the Charity Paws on Plastic who share my interests, it’s a good way to make friends and help the environment. Why not give it a try?”

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