I normally spend at least an hour each evening collecting rubbish from on the Solent shore with my dog. It’s extraordinary what you can find. I have a list here. (see also : Twitter #Solentbeachclean)
This year, I signed up as a volunteer for the Great British Spring Clean with Keep Britain Tidy. On 22 March, I began collecting litter chucked onto the banks of the Lymington River in the New Forest National Park before it could reach the sea. My personal challenge was to keep going, every day until the 23rd April when the Great British Spring clean officially ended.
The initiative inspired me remove rubbish from the ditches in earnest. Ours is a very beautiful area. I like working alone as I can go out when the weather is appropriate and fit in litter-picking with my work and Solent tides.
~A stolen handbag found in a nature reserve~
The results of my efforts:
Litter collected in one month: Total: 1360 minutes ~ about 22 hours
97 x glass bottles, milk bottles and occasionally jars – all recycled by my husband. About 5 of the bottles were half-full with vodka.
300 x plastic bottles including plastic milk bottles chucked into the river where there is a sign saying ‘Otters Crossing’.
I small bag of plastic bottle tops – saved for MENCAP
300 x empty drink tins – mostly alcoholic drinks found road verges. People must be drink-driving
9 x large rubbish bags of mixed litter, weighing about 60kgs: sweet wrappers, crisp packets, sandwich wrappers, disposable coffee cups with lids, drink can wrappers – often neatly knotted, cigarette packs, stubs, old lighters, plastic tobacco bags as well as socks, gloves and other items dropped by mistake.
This doesn’t sound a lot however, when I counted the items, it could take 1,000 pieces of plastic to fill a typical black bag. It could take only a few. Conservation International say, ‘Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way to into our oceans. Well, I’ve reduced that a by tiny bit.
Stolen items found:
Jewellery box with sentimental treasures including a wrist watch, a silver filigree broach and a bracelet engraved with the name Shirley
Leather holdall containing a pair of embroidered slippers.
HP laptop with a silver coloured case
Empty leather jewellery box for earrings
Discarded make-up bag (possibly from a stolen hand-bag)
Handbag containing spectacles, make-up and hair brush but no valuables – was able to inform the owner who is coming to collect it.
Vehicle parts found
Part of the bumper of my husband’s car. ‘I thought it would turn up sometime.’
4 x wheel hubs (one claimed after I put it on display)
Tow-bar cover (given away as a present)
Car bumper – a huge white one
Space-saver spare wheel for a car
Motor tyres x 5
Back shelf of estate car
Metal rod and rubber seals
Reverse light cover – undamaged
5 – litre diesel container with fuel inside
2 x mudguards from bikes
Rubber roller from a RIB trailer – (returned to grateful owner)
Grey grill off a Mercedes – undamaged (anyone want to claim it?)
Council signs found buried in ditches and the estuary
Men at Work sign
Narrowing road sign
Part of a chevron sign someone drove through
3 x temporary road sign stands
Tall black and white stripey bollard
3 x plastic bollards and a sandbag
I wasn’t quite quite sure how to cope but a volunteer from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust collected the heavy tyres. I’ve piled up road signs I found for the council to collect but he rusty a metal wheelbarrow still needs removing from the ditch that carries floodwater.
Week one: 325 minutes
Week two: 60 minutes
Week three: 430 minutes
Week four: 395 minutes
Week five: 150 minutes
The results have been uploaded at Keep Britain Tidy What I need to do in future is to record how far I have walked and map the stretches I’ve cleaned. I still have to tackle this dirty beach. Three loads have been removed but more awaits. Anyone want to take it on? Otherwise, you can help by pledging your support for the Great British Spring Clean here
As for me, I will continue to walk my dog with a bucket in one hand. It would be too awful to lack a container when I came across rubbish. I’ll keep a list of the things I find for this time next year. However, the project for May is to clean out our garden shed and the clutter in my own office.
7 thoughts on “Diary of a lone litter-picker: concluding the Great British Spring Clean”
Wow – that’s quite a haul!
I used to be a ‘womble’ on my way to a local school where I helped with reading. I walked through the lanes and filled a bag with all the discarded rubbish and also found the odd treasures. These included a little ‘magic’ key and a small, scary skull. The children kept these delights in a special box.
We have been living aboard our yacht for a couple of years so these days I fish things out of the water!
Goodness! Have you fished out any interesting things?
What an incredible amount of, in some cases, very weird things! Who would throw away diesel fuel? Let alone the Council signs? I am glad your husband got his car bumper back! We all owe you, and other litter-pickers, a huge debt; thank you Sophie.
You are kind to leave such an encouraging comment. We find so many discarded bollards and signs that we can only conclude they are left by the council’s contractors. I still have a metal wheelbarrow, left by road men, to excavate from a ditch. No one else will do it.
I hope you have put the wheelbarrow to some good use. Growing plants in it perhaps?
It’s still there! Waiting to be dug out.
Oh I’m sorry, I misread your previous comment. I hope you can get someone to help you extricate it.