Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A year of collecting Litter ~ 1 Year of Take 3 for 365

WOW, I can't believe its been a whole year since we joined this challenge. Have a look at my original post HERE . Even though we do pick up litter whenever we see it. We never before documented what we picked up.
I wouldn't say its been a fun challenge, some days seeing the litter was really frustrating, especially with the items we were picking up. 

This challenge has been a real eye opener. I find it shocking how we has a society have become so desensitised to litter. There is no value or responsibility in anything. When we finish with a product apparently it is someone else's responsibility to get rid of it?!?  whether that be from a bin, the pavement, road and or a waterway.

Seeing people of all ages just leave their trash behind, throwing it out of a moving vehicle or just empting their trash and ashtray on the curb. And more shocking thinking its okay to throw their trash in the canal ~ because apparently that's what a canal is for ?!?!?!?!? It's really frustrating.

:( :(
Some of the items we picked up were no surprise ~ cigarette butts and packets. Plastic bags, which thanks to the bag charge has decreased a bit, but we still see a lot of bags from take away and corner shops. Plastic bottles, cans and fast food. In other words convenience items.

The real surprises are the amount of half drunk and not even opened beverages and the same with Food especially take away, fast food. This stuff isn't cheap!

The big shock (probably because we was paying closer attention) is the 2nd most collected item

Everyday we were picking up these things.
Before this challenge when we picked them up, we would save them and put them into this box

and at the end of the year I would post them back to the Royal Mail.

Not even half way through this challenge we had to change boxes.

What's worse is that also half way through I wasn't keeping the broken elastic bands. Not realising that just because they are broken, Royal mail should still get them back!! No excuse for discarding them onto the pavement.

I wish there was a way of showing the route we take to show where we pick up these bands, to show just how shocking this amount really is!.

The total is at least 546 Bands (recorded)

The royal mail will be getting these back.


Apart from the usual suspects we did pick up some, what I like to call FREEBIES ;)

An unopened packet of flower seeds.

Candle and Glass Candle holder.

Lighters ~ half full and full = 10

Mirrors (4 mirrors in total) (see blog post here )

And £2.20  2 Euro cents and 5 Singapore cents


According to our spreadsheet we collected 4,191  items.

Sadly this isn't accurate, the true item count is more. This is because we didn't photograph everything. Some days we forgot, we either picked up something and just put it straight into a bin, it was too dirty to layout and photograph, we didn't have the time to layout the items or we just forgot. Nearly every picture is from a 5 - 10 min walk in London and few from Essex.


Sadly there were times when we couldn't pick up the litter, due to not being able to reach it, no time and or no where to put it.

Documenting this challenge at times made us both feel like we were fighting a losing battle. But watching and having watched these documentaries they kept us motivated to keep going.

Trashed    A Plastic Ocean    Mission Blue

Plus many more videos on YouTube and Netflix about Trash and Plastic Pollution.

Even though this challenge has come to an end. We will both still pick up litter when we see it. We are just no longer going to document everything. Unless there is another challenge or survey that needs to be done.

No surprise in the 10 ten items most collected, the majority is PLASTIC

Nearly everything we collected was a single use item. And sadly a lot can not be recycled. Single use Plastic is a huge problem.

Take away containers (plastic and foam), Crisp and Cigarette packets, smoothie and coffee cups and bottles. All of which are harder to recycle as they do not conform to the ideals of closed loop recycling process as many are made from two or more types of materials.

What can we do about this?

Throughout this challenge I have tried to think of what can be done to stop Litter.

Apart from harsher punishment for those that drop litter ~ which would be difficult to police.

I couldn't think of just one or an easy answer.

We really need to change our mind set that convenience is not better. We need to slow down and take responsibility to what we purchase and dispose off.  
If you have a takeaway coffee/tea everyday, bring your own travel cup. Bring your own bags. Pack your own snacks and or lunch.

Choose products that are not over packaged.

No surprise that most packaging came from Junk food. None of it is nutritious!  

I personally don't think more litter bins are needed. What we have witnessed, people just can't be bothered to put their trash in the bin, even when they are right next to a BIN.

I believe it goes back to the companies, the brands themselves and the Retailers. They all should take more of a responsibility on what they package their products in and what they are selling.
I've put retailers in the mix, because retailers advertise/represent brands. It says a lot what retailers do and sends a message.
Like I mentioned above everything is in single use packaging and it can't be recycled. Left on its own Plastic breaks up into tiny pieces and degrades but will never biodegrade as it is not organic but chemical. Only a small percentage of plastic can actually be truly recycled as part of a closed loop process and be returned to its original form of purpose.  Other than that it is only down cycled for maybe one more use, then it hangs around for hundreds of years. If the packaging was card, paper, metal or glass it can easily be recycled into what it once was, and if at worst it was discarded it would biodegrade, break down and be absorbed back into the land.  

And the Royal Mail needs to stop using Elastic Bands!.

The main reason I have shared this on my blog is to raise awareness. Since we have started our zero waste journey and picking up more litter, it has become a lot more apparent of how much litter blights our streets, parks and water ways.  It's kind of like the magic eye pictures.  You have to focus and look for it at first but once you've seen it and worked out the image, you recognise it instantaneously every time you go back to look.

Please help to be part of the solution and NOT part of the pollution.

I'd like to think that this goes without mention but please bin it, don't drop it.  But based on everything above, this does not appear to be some peoples first instinct, otherwise we would not have picked what we did.

Thank you for taking the time read this. I hope I have inspired you (if you don't already) to make a difference. Just doing a little bit really does make difference.

Till next time ~ See It Bin It

Live Green

Donna x

Like this post? You might like to read: Trash and or
My Journey towards a Zero Waste Lifestyle

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