We joined a litter pick in Stroud, a nearby town, with local litter pickers and our MP for Stroud, Siobhan Baillie.
Siobhan and her team gave their time to better learn about the amount of litter in our local area and what volunteers are doing to tackle this issue. There was lots of discussion and ideas on how people can be better educated about littering; what government legislation is already in place; and what local litter picking groups are doing. We learnt a lot from other litter-pickers present about the issues with rubbish around our local canals and how our local councils are trying to tackle to grapple with the problem.
Eric Torrington, a local litter picker organised the day, taking us on a tour of what he described as ‘litter hot spots’. Starting with a relatively clean car park, we walked through the town, targeting areas with increasing amounts of litter. Eric has been litter picking for years, personally collecting hundreds of thousands of items of rubbish and disposing of it correctly. It was really interesting listening to his stories about where litter gathers most prolifically, specifically around retail centres and on the sides of roads.
Much of the rubbish we found had been there for some time. One coke can even dated back to 2018! Half-buried, covered in mud, and filled with stagnant water, the litter we found in this state was really disgusting. Some of the items had gotten caught in hedges, blown by the wind or left by people congregating in the large bushy area. The rest of the rubbish we encountered was either in the corners of car parks or had been washed there by the rain, collecting around storm drains. This was of particular interest to us, as litter in drains can often be washed out to sea and end up on our beaches.
Some of the more notable things we found included:
- A baseball and a football
- Multiple large nitrous oxide tanks
- Clothing (several button-up shirts)
- A rug
Something we found an alarming amount of was nitrous oxide containers. Otherwise known as NOS or laughing gas, this drug can be extremely dangerous. It can cause brain damage, suffocation, or injury due to dizziness. While we found some small canisters, we found far more of these larger tanks weighing around 1.3 kilos each.
We were quickly filling our bags to capacity when dealing with such dense piles of litter. Therefore, we had to stop half way and drop off our bags so that we weren’t weighed down for the rest of our clean. In total, we filled 15 sacks that had an 120 litre capacity each, a great achievement!
Eric took this litter home so that it could be sorted into recyclable and general waste. These staggering images show just how much as collected; a huge pile of waste! Hundreds of cans, and glass bottles were found that can be recycled and prevented from going to landfill.
In total we collected 78.54 kilos in just two hours. This brings our total for the year to 274.19 kilos collected! It is amazing how such a large amount of litter could be collected in such a small area, less than a mile.
Thank you to Eric for organising the event, for the other litter pickers who came to offer their support and ideas, and for Siobhan and her team for listening and getting involved. We hope to take part in another event in Stroud again in the future.!