Confessions of a Litter Picker

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Clean for the Queen

A small band of volunteers gathered at the Tarvin Community Centre on Saturday, 5th March to collect their high-viz jackets, bags and picking sticks to take part in the "Clean for the Queen" spring clean of litter from the Tarvin Parish. At the end of a two hour stint just a selection of what had been collected was piled ready to be taken away from the Community Centre for disposal.

This is the third such litter campaign and the second that I have taken part in. My first was last autumn and I was interested to compare that experience with the current one. My first observation was that there had been no substantial reduction in the quantity of rubbish. As to content, the usual suspects were still there in abundance with plastic and aluminium drink containers being top of the list, abetted by a few glass beer bottles and the odd wine bottle. These were follow up by cigarette and crisp packets, the latter somehow always managing to come to rest in a way that collected samples of the recent rainfalls and hence needed to be dextrally manipulated to avoid adding the extra weight of water to an already heavy collection bag. It's also axiomatic that the point when the bag is just starting to feel really heavy is when you suddenly realise just how far it is back to the collection starting point!

The section of road that I was working was the A54 towards Chester. The litter above is clearly the result of passing motorist choosing to throw stuff from their vehicle but also among the litter was items they did not choose to leave behind such as hubcaps, broken wing-mirrors, and bumper parts.
An unexpected observation was the number of examples of the silver-foil packaging for pills. Previously, I was unaware of how many drivers and passengers must suddenly decide they have forgotten to take their pills and if it's the last one, they must decide to throw the packaging out of the window. I wonder if that why there are so many drink containers littering the hedgerow is because motorists keep the drinks in their car in order to be able to take their pills? Another unusual finding was the number of discarded single gloves, but I guess it has something to do with the winter season.

Finally, while I would not claim to have collected the most litter, I am claiming the biggest item. It was a table parasol and it can be seen behind the bags in the photograph. Was someone planning a roadside picnic at Stamford Bridge and did they inadvertently forget to repack it when they left because even I find it difficult to think of someone driving by just deciding on a whim to toss it out of the window!

The great thing about litter research is that one can be sure there will just as much evidence to sift through the next time!