Volunteer picking up beach litter at Great British Beach Clean on Eastney Beach Portsmouth GBBC Billy Barraclough

Reflections on rubbish: cleaning up during coronavirus

2 minute read

Sea Champions

18 Feb 2021

In these grim coronavirus-dominated days it’s easy to lose hope, bound, not just by four walls, but mentally shut in too. It can feel a bit rubbish!

Jo Earlam, Marine Conservation Society Outstanding Achievement Award Winner 2020, reflects on the bright spots in a tumultuous year.

An increase in rubbish in the countryside has been one of the impacts of lockdown life. More people out walking, eating in the open air instead of in pubs and cafes, leaving behind strewn coffee cups, discarded drinks cans and an array of plastic, crisp packets, sweet wrappers, and bottles, as well as the tell-tale signs of epidemic living, plastic gloves, and disposable face masks.

But disposing of these single use items does not mean throwing in a hedge, hurling from a car window, or casually dropping underneath benches. It means disposing of them in a bin.

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Like a lot of people, I’ve become so disturbed by the increasing amount of rubbish that I’ve decided to do something positive to redress it – inspired by the Marine Conservation Society’s Litter Quest, source to sea approach to tackling litter.

This January on six separate litter picking outings, of between 30 minutes to two hours, I’ve picked up more than 10kg of rubbish, in a radius of two miles around my village. They’re routes I walk regularly with my dog and to enjoy them, even for a short time, without litter blighting my view, I feel better.

Through social media posts of my finds, I discovered others are doing the same, including an intensive care nurse and her emergency department husband, who clear up litter on their days off from frontline NHS work.

Saving lives one day, saving the planet the next.

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That’s not rubbish. That’s amazing.

Thanks Lisette and Clinton Johnston for inspiring me.

Really you are the Outstanding Achievers.

You, and the army of community litter pickers out there, who spread hope.

Already we have a local group going, the Eager Beavers, and litter pickers have been supplied by Knights Farm Shop, who’s land borders the River Otter where the beavers live.

We may not be able to change the world, but we can change our world.

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