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Spring clean spring back

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As the South Woodford Society plan for the return of community litter picks this May, Louise Burgess praises the efforts of a group of local teenagers who have been keeping South Woodford tidy

With the easing of lockdown, and with people starting to be more positive about their health and the future, perhaps now is a good time to look back and see how our behaviours should change going forward.

One issue that has been exacerbated by the lockdowns, due to the greater use of our outside spaces, is littering, and in particular fly-tipping, which increased by nearly 80% during the first lockdown. Demand for refuse disposal has gone up, and Redbridge Council has now installed a CCTV camera providing a live stream of the entrance to Chigwell Road Reuse and Recycling Centre, so the public can check the queues in advance.

As more and more of us visited our local open spaces in lockdown, including Epping Forest, the local councils have struggled to keep up with the clearing of litter and emptying of bins. Leaving rubbish around an already full bin is littering. Another bin should be found or the litter taken home and disposed of with your household recycling or waste. Many people feel the council should be doing more to solve this problem, but with all the additional expenditure during lockdown, councils are struggling with the amount of money they have available to them. We can all help by not littering and wherever possible, prevent the litter in the first place by using reusable coffee cups (Little Woodford Café and Tipi Coffee Co are among those now accepting your own cups) and water bottles.

One enterprising group of boys from Year 9 at Woodbridge High School decided that as part of their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award they would carry out weekly litter picking sessions. So far, they have picked around George Lane, the Station Estate car park and the slip roads up from the A406. The public have taken to various social media platforms to thank the boys and to congratulate them on their efforts. The South Woodford Society has supported them with the loan of litter pickers, hoops and bags. If you are inspired by them and would like to help as well, you can join us on Sunday 30 May for our first litter pick since 2019, as part of the Great British Spring Clean.

Finally, there are various schemes currently looking at how we can improve our record of littering – often cited as being one of the worst in Europe – including deposit return systems and greater public awareness, especially when it can be so harmful to wildlife and the environment. So, along with reducing the amount of litter and single-use plastic in the first place, please let’s all use the litter bins or take our litter home!


To view a live stream of the entrance to Chigwell Road Reuse and Recycling Centre, visit swvg.co.uk/tipcam

A community litter pick will take place on 30 May from 10am (meet at the junction of Primrose Road and Mulberry Way). For more information, visit swvg.co.uk/sws

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