Keep community tidy: 90 litter bags turn to 1000 after lockdown

Litter can be seen around Cardiff with the lockdown restrictions being eased.

An increased amount of litter is being left around on the street and public areas.

With the lockdown restrictions being eased, photos are being shared on social media of litter being left behind in the parks and in Cardiff Bay. Littering problem has already existed long before the pandemic but it is time to reflect on the behaviour of causing this situation.

“Before the COVID, the highest record of litter bags being collected in one pick is 90 bags on a group of 60 members. Despite we only have four group litter picks, we have collected over 1000 bags in total including some of our volunteers’ litter pick individually,” said Fiona, the convenor of Keep Grangetown Tidy group.

There is a huge variety of litter categories that Fiona and her group have seen each time. She said that recently the most common type is PPE clothes, masks, gloves and sometimes they will also pick up a teddy bear and even a Next Bike. Among this litter, Fiona thinks that the most dangerous one is the broken glass from bottles.

“I can understand the options open to people is quite limited in terms of where people can go and people will use the open space to gather and socialise. It’s great that people have a good time but we just hope that people can either take the bottle to the bin or bring it back home but not just smashing it before leaving,” said Fiona.

Keep Grangetown Tidy is one of the volunteer litter picker groups that started around six years ago with around 90 members in the group picking up litter weekly. Though during COVID, they cannot do this in a group, so some volunteers still do it individually.

“We have a mixed group of people living in this area. The problem of littering and fly tipping comes from the fact we have lots of fast-food restaurants and we don’t have enough litter boxes placed in the area,” said Fiona.

It is normal for an individual to pick up more than 5 bags of litter in each pick.

Despite the starting point of this group being to improve the environment of the area and make the community a nicer place to live, not everyone appreciates what this volunteer litter pickers group has contributed.

“Sometimes we have received criticism from the public that this is not our responsibility to do the litter pickers and keep the community clean. This should be left to the council responsible to do it,” said Fiona.

“However, another problem that causes the litters problem is that the council does not have enough people so that the working efficiency is quite low.”

Luckily these criticisms do not stop Fiona and the group from keeping on picking litter.

“Most people will come and say thank you to us. Sometimes, children will give us their candies to show their appreciation to us and supermarkets will send us coffee and tea to support us,” said Fiona.

“When we see that some people start to reflect on their behaviour and bring the litters away with them because seeing what we have done. It is really satisfying to know that we have changed something and this motivates us to keep going.”

Everyone can help to keep the community clean by following these tips.

Indeed, it is not the responsibility of a specific group of people to keep the community tidy as it belongs to everyone.

“We hope to raise the awareness of the public and reflects on their own behaviour. The easiest way to contribute to keeping the environment clean is to bring the litter away with them.”

“If anyone interests in volunteer litter picking, they can get in touch with us through our Facebook Page. We will provide pink litter bags to them but they have to rent pick up tools from the council,” said Fiona.