As a family of four, we’ve lost track of how far we have walked this year, but it’s a fair distance. Through some beautiful (and often remote) parts of Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey (as we live pretty close to all three).

Throughout a very challenging 2020, nature has provided us with a sanctuary; a safe haven. Somewhere to relax and unwind with our two wonderful children. So, this month, we decided to give back in a different way.

Some of our favourite routes have been those on our doorstep, taking us through the “villages” of Spencers Wood, Swallowfield and Shinfield. At times though, we have been dismayed by the noticeable amount of litter along some of the busier roads, and surprised by some of the items we’ve spotted.

After all, we are sure that everyone will remember the iconic and long-lasting “Keep Britain Tidy” campaign, first launched in 1960. Four decades later, why are we still talking about the issue? From leaching micro plastics into the environment to posing a deadly hazard to wildlife, it’s time to tackle the problem once and for all.

A couple of clicks one afternoon and our new litter pickers had soon arrived, and last weekend we spent a couple of hours out and about on our first litter pick.

“How many pieces of litter do you think we’ll find today?” our eldest son asked. We settled on a join guess of 100 before setting off.

Unbelievably, by the time we got home again we had collected more than five times as many items of litter (yes, over 500).

From rope and a car wing mirror, through to Lego pieces, a pair of gloves, face masks, crisp and snack wrappers, glass and plastic bottles, food and drinks cans, scrap metal, car parts, pens, carrier bags, wipes and even a phone charger. The whole experience was both disheartening and rewarding at the same time.

We have a hope that the new sealed recycling bags, soon to be introduced by our local council, will make it harder for rubbish put out for collection to be blown around, creating litter. Time will tell if that proves to be the case.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in introducing a new element to your regular exercise routine, search online for “adopt a street” and “litter picking” in your local area. You may find the your local council will provide grabbers, sacks and even a hi-vis jacket (we don’t bother with these) to get you going.

And, when the world returns to “normal”, you may also want to search for “community litter pick” and to keep an eye out on local social media pages.

And don’t simply assume that any litter you pick is sadly destined for landfill. Most of the non-recyclable waste collected from homes in in our area is taken to the Energy from Waste facility located in Colnbrook. There it is safely incinerated, and used to generate electricity which is fed to the National Grid. A win, win.

You can find us on Facebook by searching for Plastic Free Home or at http://www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk.

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