More than just rubbish to fight in campaign to clean city

Firth Park litter pick
Firth Park litter pick
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“It’ll look just the same tomorrow.”

That was the first reaction of people in Firth Park when they saw us litter picking.

Firth Park litter pick Harvey Henderson

Firth Park litter pick Harvey Henderson

Armed only with pickers and black bags, it turned out we had more to fight than just abandoned rubbish.

Everyone was delighted that somebody was doing something, but they were also disheartened at the relentless trail of litter.

Many told their own tales of having cleared areas outside their homes, only to see mess return within a couple of days.

But it is only by taking action and listening that the multiple problems behind our city-wide litter epidemic become clear.

Firth Park litter pick Sarah Hardy

Firth Park litter pick Sarah Hardy

There is a big element of children dropping crisp packets and drunks discarding their vodka bottles, but that isn’t the whole issue.

The areas which have bins had remarkably less litter in the immediately surrounding area.

Well, that isn’t rocket science to sort.

There is also a real problem with people throwing food wraps and cans on the ground at bus stops, because they aren’t allowed to take them on board.

Firth Park litter pick

Firth Park litter pick

Shouldn’t bus companies help solve that?

There were even examples of full yoghurt pots and unopened crisps which had been thrown into hedges.

It is the kids who empty the things they don’t want from their lunchboxes, I was reliably told.

I thought of their poor mums who imagined well nourished children, but had less sympathy with the youngsters who deliberately place glass bottles in front of the tyres of parked cars.

Firth Park litter pick

Firth Park litter pick

Then there was those who really should know much better.

Many of Firth Park’s streets are being resurfaced by Amey.

Hard to believe unless you’ve seen it, but that includes several examples of preserving litter for posterity ... by asphalting it into place.

There were also grass verges which had numerous piles of sweepings dumped on them, cleared to make way for the new pavement surfaces ... but then left to spoil the adjacent area.

My favourite comment was the pensioner who grunted: “You’re putting the council out of a job.”

Oh, the irony.

Firth Park litter pick

Firth Park litter pick

What he was trying to say was that it should be down to the council to clear-up, rather than volunteers.

But litter is just one of many examples where the council needs to work harder with our communities to find real answers and grow pride in our neighbourhoods.

We have to work together, led by volunteers but truly supported by the local authority like yesterday’s litter pick.

It is our city and we all need to show it more love.

My favourite piece of litter?

It was hard to decide between the knickers abandoned down an alleyway or the jumper in the hedge, which weighed a ton due to rain and goodness only knows what else it had soaked up.

Our photographer Marisa Cashill’s favourite? A far-from-tempting Valentine’s Day menu of rotten chips, very suspicious looking vodka and a Best Boyfriend card – already dumped.

Firth Park litter pick

Firth Park litter pick

Firth Park litter pick Alex Lamb

Firth Park litter pick Alex Lamb