In Praise of Litter Crusaders

Once you become aware of how big the litter problem is in the UK, you start to notice it everywhere.  Along motorways, where it has been chucked out of cars.  Along a community’s streets, where careless individuals drop food wrappers and beverage containers.  Along footpaths, rivers, canals, and other beauty spots where people seemingly can’t …

Keep ReadingIn Praise of Litter Crusaders

Yesterday’s rubbish walk was along a small portion of Malmesbury Road, an area that we clean on a regular basis. We cut the walk short due to high winds, but we still managed to collect 9 glass bottles, 39 cans, and 21 plastic bottles, as well as one bag of general rubbish. We have started keeping track of the most littered brand we find – check back in at the end of the month for the list of shame.

There are many reasons that rubbish ends up along this stretch of road:

Food: A large Morrison’s is at one end of Malmesbury Road and it is bookended on the other by a Tesco, a new Sainsbury’s, and the town centre itself with a number of takeaways. There are plenty of places for people to stock up on food to eat on the go. The packaging is often discarded along the way.

High traffic: The pavement along Malmesbury Road is a main pedestrian artery into the town. With the Chippenham Railway Station at one end and a number of local schools in the middle, all of this adds to the number of people out and about and potentially littering. Finally, there is the literal traffic – the large number of vehicles using Malmesbury Road itself. As a result of this, some of the rubbish we find tends to be parts of cars or items chucked out of car windows (like the lorry mirror (?) pictured).

Cut throughs and connections: The City of Chicago website comments that “People usually litter outside their own neighborhood where their trash becomes someone else’s problem.” Malmesbury Road is one such road that connects residential areas. We have noticed a similar trend of littering on streets that are used as shortcuts or cut throughs, such as East Yewstock Crescent and Hardenhuish Avenue.

No bins: Despite all of these reasons, bins along this route are practically non-existent. While there are quite a few well maintained bins in John Coles Park, bins between Tesco and Morrison’s can be counted on one hand.

What’s in a name?

Why the name “Rubbish Walks”?  First, it’s not just going on a walk, it’s a walk with a purpose – to clean up communities one piece of rubbish at a time.  Second, all of us can play our part in making sure rubbish “walks” off our streets and into bins and bags where it belongs.  …

Keep ReadingWhat’s in a name?

Do you want to be a rubbish walker?

Just imagine how much cleaner our communities would be if people spent one hour a week keeping their patch tidy.  Don’t have an hour?  Just try thirty minutes.  Or ten.  Or five.  Just collecting the stray rubbish from your street can make a huge difference, and it sends the message that littering is not tolerated.

Grab a spouse, a friend, a child, a neighbour and, to quote Nike, JUST DO IT.  There is no need for formal organisation, no official membership, no set times or dates.  All that is needed are a few bags, a pair of gloves and/or a litter picker, and a positive attitude. 

It only takes a few thoughtless people to make the mess caused by littering.  A few people who care about their community can make it better.

Rubbish Walks was officially started in Chippenham, Wiltshire on 15 November 2014. The aim is simple: to pick up rubbish on a regular basis and keep public areas looking clean. Since then we’ve gained a mascot (a forgotten Inspector Gadget action figure discovered in a hedge) and have averaged one walk a week, rarely venturing more than half a mile from home.

Although we’re covering little ground, large amounts of rubbish and recyclables are turning up. Stay tuned for the monthly tally (on the right), and follow along here, on Twitter, or on Facebook for details after each walk.

We would love for other people to participate, whether in Chippenham or elsewhere, but we would like to get away from the idea of an organised litter pick. Why? The psychology behind social norms and responsibility. This will be discussed more in a future blog entry, but for now please get in touch at for more information or to let us know what you’ve collected on your own rubbish walk.