Tom Whalley: Our Active Environments Development Officer talks about the sense of satisfaction and pride from litter-picking as a family

Like a lot of families in Scotland in the past year, we’ve been doing a lot of walking and exploring close to home.

The first Coronavirus lockdown in 2020 saw us using our daily exercise to get out of the house for a walk around our local area. We started off by using paths we were familiar with but very quickly we started to discover new routes we had no idea existed. 

One of these paths is less than two minutes from our door and provides an informal shortcut from our modern housing estate, through a small woodland area to an older housing estate and our village’s main street beyond.

The path isn’t on our local core paths plan and can only just be seen if you look very closely on Ordnance Survey maps – it isn’t marked on Google or Bing maps. So it’s a hidden gem that’s known about by locals giving quick access to the shops and an area of woodland. 

However, it’s not very well looked after and attracts a lot of litter, even though there’s a bin at one end. So me and my 7-year-old son decided to do something about it.

Armed with a couple of litter pickers and bin bags and a bit of spare time over the Easter break we walked the short path. We picked up old drinks cans, plastic and glass bottles, crisp and cigarette packets, and even some face masks. There was also a lot of wind-blown litter from people’s bins like junk mail and milk cartons.

We were able to put the litter we collected straight into the bin. If you don’t have a nearby litter bin, or there is too much of it, you should check your local authority’s website about how to arrange for collected litter to be picked up – they can probably also supply you with the litter picking equipment too.

Doing this gave me and my son an immense sense of satisfaction and pride that we’d been able to have a positive impact on our local area. I asked my son why he thought it was a good thing for us to do and he told me ‘it’s nice to be kind to nature and to pick up things that people have put on the ground’. 

Hopefully others will enjoy the tidied path too and it might even make some of them think twice about dropping a can or crisp packet and to put it in a bin or take it home instead.

You really don’t need to spend a long time doing it – even a couple of minutes can make a big difference!

If you've been out litter picking - or doing anything to connect and help nature - during these Spring Path Days, tell us and you could win some amazing prizes.

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