Words by Pippa Moss; Photos A Sheridan
Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean, usually held in March, was of course postponed this year – a pandemic arrived! FOMP had planned a litter picking event for it, which we had to cancel. The postponed GB Spring Clean happened in September instead. Friends of Mayow Park couldn’t organise anything big and official with all the social distancing regulations so we just chose a date and gathered six volunteers. It fell under the permitted Lewisham Covid volunteering category of ‘tending and managing habitats’. Our intention was therefore to clear the woodland and grassland habitats within the park of littered items and make them safer for wildlife. We were able to let Glendale (the team that manages the park on behalf of Lewisham Council) and the Safer Neighbourhood Team know the date so they could separately, but on the same date, be in the park too. Glendale helpfully provided bags, picker sticks and took away the litter!
It went very well. Between the 3 groups we collected 24 bags of litter, a random Hoover and a teddy bear as well! We headed into the bushes and woodland areas that we could access so it was a thorough job! Extra point for me for managing to get a sore shoulder from also carrying around a large heavy hand sanitiser bottle in my handbag!
We were all shocked by the amount of wet wipes - they overtook Haribo sweet packets by far this year. These wipes will sit around for years, they don’t decompose and they certainly don’t help the wildlife in the park.
Next litter pick I plan to collect recycling separately - it is rather depressing when it all gets lumped together. It might involve some bag juggling but I think it will be worth it - cans and bottles are a big part of what we collect.
The community has really been enjoying Mayow Park during these last 6 months - we know this space has been really valuable to all of us to escape our homes, which we have spent so much time in. To be honest after all these months of heavy use, the litter pick could have been a much greater challenge - it just shows that most people really are caring for the park. There is also a growing awareness that any bags left neatly tied next to the bins with the best of intention, do in fact end up shredded by foxes. They need to be taken home.
Anyway the great thing is that there are always willing volunteers to help on these litter picks, and anyone who has never used a litter picking stick always states how great they are to use! I’m still trying to find a handbag friendly one... see me soon on Dragon’s Den with my telescopic handbag litter picker invention!
Pippa Moss September 2020