There’s a wide range of reasons that people get out there and get involved with litter picking and some may not be what you are expecting.
Keeping Things Tidy
For some it’s a visual thing. Litter is unsightly and it’s a simple act of social responsibility to pick it up and put it in the bin. This can apply to private individuals, community groups and businesses looking after their grounds and local area.
It’s a sad truth that tens of thousands of animals are killed each year by litter (according to the RSPCA). Animals can get stuck inside of bottles, become tangled in plastic or themselves on sharp rubbish. Disposing of litter safely saves lives!
Keeping People Safe
Broken glass or sharp metal & plastics are particularly dangerous types of litter. Food waste attracts vermin which can carry diseases. Tidying it away protects children and adults from harm.
Connecting With Nature
Litter pickers are often keen nature watchers. Looking closely at the ground, as you must do when litter picking, opens your eyes to the wonderful world of flora and fauna. Giving the opportunity to see a new wildflower (such as the beautiful Common Spotted Orchid in the picture above) or have an encounter with an animal.
Some litter pickers report finding hundreds of pounds over the year. Particularly the ones that get out in the early morning. It’s not normally the primary motivation but it is a nice reward for helping everyone have a nicer place to live and play in.
Being Part of a Community
Loneliness is a big problem in our society. Joining a community litter pick is a positive way to integrate into the community. Not only do you meet those on the pick with you but often passers by will stop to talk and be grateful for the effort that is being made.
Supporting a Charity
Many environmental charities such as Surfers Against Sewage, The Rivers Trust and many many others organise litter picking events. They provide support, clear aims and are great at motivating people to get involved. Lots of people may not want to join a weekly or monthly clean but they do support the idea of it and are happy to get involved with short term events to help hit an area hard over a weekend.
Exercise & Fresh Air
We all know the difficulty of making time to exercise. Joining a regular litter pick provides an opportunity to get out and about in the fresh air. The exercise can be as vigorous or as gentle as you like.
Being the Change
Picking up other peoples’ litter is a strong signal to them that they can do better. The fact you’re out there bothering to do something raises the bar for your area. It’s a great way to educate others on the importance of a clean world. It's also a strong addition to a CV, volunteering has been shown to enhance prospects for job seekers by demonstrating that the person is an upstanding citizen.
Children are often more keen than adults to protect the natural world. They can be passionate advocates for the environment and see the fun in getting out there with a grabber stick and helping the world become a better place. Educating children about waste management in a practical way is a brilliant tool to help them understand the issues.
Litter Leads to More Litter
The psychology of crowds comes into play here. It’s well documented that if there is litter on the ground more litter will be dropped. Breaking the cycle by taking away the litter before more accumulates is a brilliant way to stop the problem before it escalates.
A littered area is more likely to suffer from criminal activity. Litter signposts that no one cares about the area and therefore criminals are more likely to be attracted to it.
Taking A Positive Action
Sometimes all the information about the damage we are doing to our planet is overwhelming and it can feel like it is too big a job for one person. However, it’s always small actions by individuals that create change. Starting a ripple in your local community can have a bigger impact than you would expect. Litter picking is an instantly impactful way that we can make a difference within our community.
Do you have another reason for picking litter? Leave a comment below and help to inspire others to join your cause!