The number of volunteers helping clean up Sheffield is growing faster than ever, which is why we’re highlighting their good work in a new feature.
Each month, starting today, we’ll be focusing on a different litter picking group across the city and letting people know more about their work, from the amount of bags they collect to their quirkiest discoveries, and how to get involved.
To kick off the monthly ‘Litter Heroes’ column, we caught up with Iren Wadsworth, of the Sheffield Litter Pickers Facebook group, which has nearly 900 members and counting.
READ MORE: Sheffield's war on litter to be mapped out
She said there are at least 60 groups regularly scouring the city’s streets and green spaces, with many more lone rangers doing their bit.
And she told how the movement is gaining momentum all the time, especially thanks to David Attenborough’s efforts to highlight the perils posed by plastic pollution.
“We started the Facebook group in October 2015 and it’s really taken off, especially over the last 12 months, during which the number of groups has doubled,” she said.
“As well as the groups, there are lots of people picking litter on their own, often while out walking their dogs.
“I think what David Attenborough did to highlight plastic pollution and the mess we’re making of the planet has helped inspire people.
“I think the council has cut back on the number of staff cleaning our streets, so the litter’s getting worse and worse.
“It gets to the point where you can’t look at it anymore. Either you sit and moan about it or get up and do something about it.
“It’s your neighbours, your family and your friends who are dropping the litter, and we have to start taking a bit more responsibility. Even just picking outside your house or on your street makes a difference.
“Everyone who comes to the group litter picks is so lovely. You get a bit of fresh air and exercise, it’s so satisfying seeing the difference after just a couple of hours and it’s amazing how many connections you make within your community.
“Most people who see what we’re doing say how much they appreciate it. There are a few who say ‘why bother, it will only get bad again’ but you could say the same about not cleaning your house because it will only get dusty again.”
If you're looking for a litter picking group to join near you, the Sheffield Litter Pickers page is the first port of call.
If there’s not one where you live, it couldn’t be easier to start one, according to Ms Wadsworth.
“You can get free litter grabbers, bags and disposable gloves by calling the council’s Streets Ahead team, which will also collect any rubbish you’ve gathered,” she said.
“After that all you need to do is pick a date, post about it on our Facebook page, share it with friends and if you want put up some posters.
“When I started litter picking in Norton there were only about three people but now we get 15-20 volunteers, which shows that if you do it regularly the numbers will increase.”
The first Litter Heroes to feature in The Star are members of the Hackenthorpe Litter Pickers, and you can find out more about their work here.
For more information on litter picking groups in Sheffield, visit www.facebook.com/groups/SheffieldLitterPickers.
To contact Streets Ahead, call Sheffield Council on 0114 273 4567 or visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/roads-pavements/streets-ahead.html.