Litter picks are important for many reasons. Waste, a large amount of it plastic, negatively affects local communities. It is a blot on the landscape and, often, unhygienic. It causes suffering for wildlife, such as birds who get caught up in it. I have seen several examples of this locally including a swan who had partially swallowed some fishing line with a syringe attached, and pigeons with deformities from getting tangled in waste. Picking up litter helps challenge the normalised culture of littering. It is shown in practise to reduce the amount of litter that is dropped. Hence it forms part of our campaign to educate and work together in order to reduce plastic pollution.
We started the Plastic Free Swindon campaign for Plastic Free July in 2018 with a joint litter picker in Pinehurst with RSPCA North Wiltshire. This was after conversations about how plastic and other waste products pose a very real threat to wildlife and domestic animals. They kindly wrote an article for SCAN about the importance of this aspect of their work.
Since then, we’ve had many litter picks all over Swindon, working with local groups such as:
– Swindon Street Reps: a community-focused organisation with several groups around Swindon. Their work has been empowering for local communities, and much-needed as funding for council services from central government have diminished. The Junior Reps has proven to be a fantastic initiative for both young people and the wider community. Swindon Street Reps are about community involvement and responsibility towards making local areas nice for people to live. The Junior Reps are the younger Street Reps, learning good skills and values. Swindon Street Reps run regular litter picks and get involved in many other ways in local communities.
– CARIG (Central Residents Improvement Group): a community group in central Swindon covering a wide area including the railway village and canal path. CARIG are connected to the Mechanics Trust and meet monthly to discuss local issues and plan action.
– Savernaake Street Social Hall: Eastcott Community Organisation do some great work in the community, including regular events such as The Repair Cafe and Free Shop and Window Wanderland. We put on an excellent cultural litter pick with them and local historian, Andy Binks, in October 2019.
Litter picks are posted in our upcoming events on the website and on Facebook via the SCAN and Plastic Free Swindon pages. Please get in contact if you would like to organise a litter pick in your area or work together with us.