Mrs Green says “Get off your a***!”

Filed in Blog by on December 29, 2010 12 Comments
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countryside litter in britainOne of Little Miss Green’s bugbears is seeing litter. She’ll often don a pair of rubber gloves and go off into the village gathering up the rubbish that other people have thrown from cars or left in the hedges.

She’s worried that animals might get hurt and says Mother nature feels uncomfortable with all that stuff on her face which is her motivation for getting out there and doing something.

She doesn’t wait for the council to do something or for someone else to deal with it. She doesn’t lament that it’s her birthright to walk on unlittered streets, she rolls up her sleeves and is proactive.

She sees a need and responds to it.

Imagine what the world would look like if we all took action instead of waiting for someone else to do it …

According to Litter Heroes the UK is one of the most heavily littered countries in Europe. (Thanks to Poppy for the heads up on this brilliant website).

Twenty years of poster campaigns, TV adverts, and voluntary agreements have had little effect on littering behaviour. The thing is, litter doesn’t just stop at our roadsides, it gets everywhere – up in the trees, in the sewers and it ends up washed up on beaches. The MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend 2009, which saw volunteers out on almost 400 beaches collecting and recording rubbish, picked up 1,849 items of litter per kilometre

Litter heroes share five good reasons why we should all go and pick up some litter:

It’s enjoyable

Well that’s questionable, but yes I’ll grant it’s a great excuse to get out in the fresh air for some exercise

You’ll make a difference

Twenty minutes litter picking can transform an area.

You’ll feel good

Litter picking is surprisingly rewarding. Granted, that’s so true – it’s great to be part of the solution rather than the problem


We all know prevention is better than cure and according to Litter Heroes, studies have shown that people are less likely to drop litter in areas which are litter free.

Your countryside needs you

If we don’t pick this stuff up it will still be there for our great great grandchildren.

As 34% of litter is drinks cans and bottles it’s making more and more sense to me to bring back deposits on bottles. But in the meantime as you’re all groaning under the weight of too much food over Christmas and could benefit from some fresh air, why not pop on a pair of rubber gloves and go and fill a carrier bag with litter?

You never know what you might find. In his excellent “What’s littering Britain” survey from 39 sites across the country, Tim Barnes found a rucksack full of books, a chandelier and a £5 note!

Let me know how you get on!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (12)

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  1. Sandie Roach says:

    What a brilliant subject for the My Zero Waste Blog. Thank you x

    The boys clean a site for Clean up Australia Day and so do heaps of other people.

    You have inspired me. And, even if I can’t pick up all the litter, I can pick up the bottles and cans and put them in the recycling.

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Attila says:

    About an hour ago, my husband had dissappeared and the back gate was open, so I investigated and found him just coming back from a litter pick up round our close! There is a parade of shops at the entrance to our road and it seems that all the litter from there ends up in our garden; just the way the wind blows. It seems we are the only people in about 40 houses that do this. Once, in another road, I saw an elderly man picking up litter in his garden only to throw it over his wall onto the pavement!

  3. EXCELLENT post! Your statement, Imagine what the world would look like if we all took action instead of waiting for someone else to do it … resonated deeply with me.

    Just like child protection, cleaning and greening our environment is the responsibility of us all.

    Did you know that plastic bottle caps are quickly eclipsing cigarette butts as the number one item found on the world’s beaches? YUK! That is just disgusting.

    Did you know that there are at least two HUGE (we’re talking the size of Texas) floating plastic garbage dumps in our oceans: plastics spun together by a vortex of currents?

    As you already know, plastic is forever. It never totally degrades and has communion with our earth. It looks like food to marine life, they eat it and they die.

    I echo you in your sentiment to help the environment by reducing the purchase of plastic and reusing or recycling the plastic that you do have.

  4. Poppy says:

    Wow! Thanks for putting this up Mrs G. WIth the problems the bin lorries have had over the last week or so, things are begining to look a bit dire around here, but I’ve been stuck down by some kind of horrible coughing and choking bug! But I will be back with my bag and litter picker shortly.

    Even with very little get up and go today, I did bin some rubbish on our brief dog walk and also found a perfectly good football shirt and a mobile phone! I tried to return the phone to the owner, but they said to keep it as it was lost pre-snow, pre-christmas and they’d already had a replacement via the insurance! Ho hum!

  5. Stephanie says:

    We do have Clean Up Australia day here, as Sandie says but its all our responsibility to do it everyday.I just dont throw rubbish out into the street. Why would I want to live in a rubbish tip ?Why would I want to harm the environment and hurt animals? Thats not how I live my life, because I try to be conscious of my surroundings and the impact my actions have on others animal or vegetable.

    What i like about Ikea is the fact we take our own trays back to the tray holder. Ikea might say its about saving costs etc but for me its all about being responsible for our own rubbish. it doesnt take much to do that.. to pick up your own tray, and get rid of of your own mess. Its the same with street litter.And if the UK is one of the most heavily littered, European countries, what does it say about the UK psyche?Its a worry.

  6. People in Alabama have an Adopt-A-mile program. A person, family, church, civic group, Boy Scouts, a business or whatever commits to keeping one mile of country roadways free of litter. They even put up signs noting who was doing the litter picking. I have not noticed any signs lately. Maybe I have seen them so long that I not longer see them.

    You said people don’t litter where there is no litter. Also, research has shown that littered streets have more crimes committed in those areas. I searched with swagbucks and typed in “litter and crime” and got this research report.
    I hope it is okay to include this link. I am going to link your blog to mine. Good post. Litter is one of my pet peeves.

  7. Alyson says:

    Of course, If parents told their children to put their rubbish in the bin there wouldn’t be a problem in the first place! Well , that’s my rant over and done with.I have always told my children to put their rubbish in the bin even if that means it gets taken home with us because we haven’t come across one in our travels or if the wind blew and caught it just as it was going into the bin and they’ve had to pick it up and made sure it got put in. I remember years ago, my eldest daughter’s boyfriend dropping a crisp packet in our Close. It was a new estate and we hadn’t long moved there. The first piece of rubbish to be dropped! How dare he! She told him to pick it up and he refused, when she told me I was cross and told him to go and pick it up and he did! I was surprised,( and pleased) I’m usually the shy, retiring creature that wouldn’t say boo to a goose. I might be a housing association tenant but I’ve still got standards. Looking back over the 10 years we’ve been here, the Close is still litter free, it’s the private road near us that seems to have the litter dropped. We found a catalogue once still in its wrapper. We took it home and put it in the recycling box.

  8. Julie Day says:

    Good for little Miss Green. I often am out and see rubbish that could be recycled on the groud and am tempted to pick it up, but as my mum says, you don’t know where it’s been and from whom so leave it. We should have local campaigns to pick up all this rubbish.

  9. Poppy says:

    Suitably dosed up, I ventured out armed with bags and a grab stick today. At every public bin, I emptied the residual bag, but kept hold of the bag that I added cans and plastic bottles to. There were other items I could have perhaps added to my compost bin (outer wraps from the local kebab van and paper towel from the garage), but I had to draw the line somewhere – plus it was also drizzling and me and the pooch were getting damper and damper.. When I venture back out on a nicer day, I’ll be more pedantic about the end game.

    The OMG find of the day, was a dumped Happy Meal, complete with toy in a sealed plastic bag! I’m none the wiser as to what it is, even after opening it – a total waste of plastic that I’m not even going to bother passing onto the charity shop. Junior says it is something to do with a film or cartoon called Mega Mind 🙁

    I did have 3 people pass on positive comments about what I was doing, but no offers to help.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Sandie Roach: thanks Sandie and for providing a link from your part of the world. I know litter is something you feel passionately about 😉
    @Attila: How lovely! Give your hubby a Mrs Green thumbs up 🙂
    @Megan Bayliss: thanks Megan – it was the whole Pacific Gyre thing that started our site off; the thought that our lifestyle was impacting creatures out at sea is just too much to bear (and no I didn’t know that plastic caps were outnumbering cigarette butts in litter – thanks for that).
    @Poppy: Wow, amazing story about the phone – just amazing. Talk about a disposable culture. And the happy meal too – so sad when people in the UK are starving … Glad you are feeling better and well done for all you do; you’re really amazing.
    @Stephanie: Hi Stephanie, thanks for your thought provoking comment. It IS worrying. Even as a child it never dawned on me to throw things into the street – I took them home and put them in the bin, and as for people who throw things from a moving car … I’ve seen so many things just thrown on the pavements less than 20 yds from litter bins too – I really don’t get the mentality and it upsets me to see people caring so little and not considering the consequences.
    @Practical Parsimony: thanks for the link (yes it’s ok to post relevant links as they help all readers) and I love the adopt-a-mile idea.
    @Alyson: Hi Alyson, well done you for taking a stance about the litter. I agree it looks unsightly and shouldn’t be a problem; I really don’t understand why people do it; I’ve never once felt the urge to throw things into the roads…
    @Julie Day: I think you can contact your local council Julie; it might be worth checking their policy.

  11. Antonio Pachowko says:

    My bugbear is children who Swear LOL. I hope you wash her mouth with soapy water.

    Remember from small acorns big oak trees come and encouragement to the young is always rewarding. I always try to pick up where I see it but i admit dog poo can be off-putting when it is near rubbish. We are lucky here as the council pick the rubbish once a week, it may be due to the fact that one council worker (whose main job is to pick litter) lives close to my house.

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Antonio Pachowko: The swearing was from me 😉 Good that the council pick up in your area. They visit our village around once a month and I’m very grateful for that service…

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