For lots of us during our busy lives before lockdown, a walk was something we did to achieve an important daily goal. To get to the shops, the school run, to exercise the dog, to get to work, meet friends, go to the park to play footie or give the children or ourselves some exercise or enjoy nature.
Now life has come to a virtual standstill isolation allows us one form of exercise a day and it’s feels like our golden ticket! Now of course the small things do feel like a great treat, including walking.
A day and we are no longer rushing from one place to another to get something done. Now we can walk for the sake of walking – and it’s a bit of a blessing.
At BTfL we have always advocated walking as a green alternative to your car, as exercise, as a way of appreciating your surroundings, to clear your head, think creatively and of course appreciate trees.
But now we have the time to appreciate all these things, we can do something more – we can pick up litter.
We all know walking is good exercise, but litter picking adds that extra dimension for to your exercise routine all that bending and stretching is good for joint and muscle movement, not to mention the cardiovascular benefits.
We all know horrible and unpleasant it is to see an over flowing bin in your local park – or anywhere. Or watching a reckless individual throw an empty drinks’ can or takeaway carton out of their car window without a care.
And we always wonder – why! Why go out of your way to make your environment look ugly!
Instead let’s ask why not? Why not grab some gardening gloves, a bin bag and a steely determination to improve your own patch today and pick up some litter on your daily walk?
It’ good exercise and boy will it make you feel a small, but brilliant sense of achievement and pride.
But there are other benefits too.
An area with higher levels of litter are more likely to attract crime. Criminals believe that less pride taken in an area means they will have an easier time committing crimes.
If some people see litter around, they are more likely to litter, care less, dump their rubbish where other people have carelessly dumped theirs.
But it works the other way too. If there is no litter in an area it means that individual will feel less compelled to start littering and will make a conscious decision to do the right thing and throw their rubbish in the bin.
It brings the community closer because if a neighbour or local resident sees you picking up litter it will make them feel good, allow them more pride in their local area, dissuade them from littering and it may even inspire them to pick up litter too!
That horrible feeling of seeing rubbish all over the floor will also disappear. Lifting the mood, enhancing our appreciation of a well-kept and tidy local area allowing us to enjoy and appreciate that area more.
And we say, If it’s good enough of the Wombles’ then it’s good enough for us all. And if you are too young to remember the Wombles’, they were environmental heroes of the day in the 1970’s an 80’s on children’ television. A family of lovable Wombles’ living in a burrow on Wimbledon Common, making their purpose in life to keep it tidy and recycle other people’s rubbish. Employing that well versed mantra – one person trashes another person’s treasure! And the Wombles are still around today spreading that same message of, ‘Keep Britain Tidy.’
So, think about it – if you could achieve a lower crime rate, pride in your community and yourself, improve your health, encourage a more upbeat mood, a more beautiful area to walk around and appreciate just by picking up a few bits of litter along the way, you would do it wouldn’t you, we all would.
But if you disagree and think this blog is a load of old rubbish too – then on your next walk make the effort to notice every piece of litter you pass, on a grass verge or in a bush where wildlife makes it home, in a park where children play, or along the street where we all walk and wonder who much nicer it would look if the litter wasn’t there.
It might inspire you to pick up that little bit of rubbish along the way and become a litter guardian.
And whether you remember the lovable Children’s TV characters, the Wombles or not we say make like a Womble and go on a litter pick – it will really do the trick!
If you would like to start picking up litter while you are out on your daily walks, here are a few pointers to help you along the way.
- DO wear gloves. A pair of gardening gloves or something tough enough to pick up items with sharp edges is a good idea.
- DON’T pick up anything dangerous, especially at this time. Avoid handling needles, very heavy objects, or anything that could be contaminated with chemicals or pathogens.
- DO bring a strong plastic bag. Nothing worse than getting a tear in your bag half-way along your walk!
- DON’T overdo it. This is your daily exercise- but it’s best if it is enjoyable. In these days of lockdown, the chances are that you can come back tomorrow and pick up some more.
- DO take your bag of litter home. Council bins are probably not getting emptied as often as they used to so you can help by popping it in your wheelie bin when you get back to your house. Recycle when possible.
- And DO observe all the important social distancing rules to keep yourself and others safe from coronavirus transmission. As always, do not touch your face, and wash your hands with soap when you get home.