‘Lit­ter pick­ing’ has sur­pris­ing ben­e­fits


Have you ever been to your favourite lo­cal spot and no­ticed piles of rub­bish and bot­tles? Maybe an old shoe or two? The only thing worse than find­ing rub­bish in scenic spots is the en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age that it causes.

Even if we are tidy ki­wis our­selves, it can feel like there isn’t much that we as in­di­vid­u­als can do about the lit­ter prob­lem. How­ever, there are some lo­cal un­sung he­roes that are chal­leng­ing this as­sump­tion.

Tom Carr moved to Palmer­ston North in Jan­uary 2015 and reck­ons he picked up over 500kg of rub­bish by his first Christ­mas here. Equipped with a $9 grab­ber and a bag, he picks up lit­ter ev­ery day on his 2.5km walk home from work up Sum­mer­hill Dr.

‘‘I started do­ing this dur­ing a step chal­lenge at work,’’ says Tom. ‘‘The rub­bish that I saw when I was out walk­ing re­ally an­noyed me, so I de­cided to start pick­ing it up.’’

Tom’s best find to date has been a $20 note, but mostly he col­lects food wrap­pers, bits of plas­tic and pa­per.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple pull over to thank me or ask if I work for the coun­cil,’’ Tom says. ‘‘I ac­tu­ally find it re­ally re­ward­ing and re­lax­ing.’’

Another anti-lit­ter­ing hero, Vern John­son, can be found pick­ing up rub­bish most days on Hi­matangi Beach. Like Tom, he was in­spired to do some­thing to clean up his lo­cal area.

‘‘I must pick up about a mil­lionth of what I see,’’ Vern says.

More re­cently he has be­come con­cerned about the amount of waste plas­tic that he finds on the beach.

‘‘This just can’t be good for the ocean,’’ says Vern. ‘‘I’d like to stop at least some of it get­ting in there.’’

Tom and Vern would re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate their fel­low ki­wis think­ing hard be­fore they dis­pose of their rub­bish. If we all did so, they’d soon be out of a hobby. In the mean­time, if you are find­ing lit­ter an an­noy­ance in your lo­cal area, Tom sug­gests get­ting a grab­ber and giv­ing lit­ter pick­ing a try. You might like it.

‘‘It’s sur­pris­ingly ad­dic­tive and quite ther­a­peu­tic,’’ says Tom. ‘‘Plus it makes your lo­cal area a nicer place for every­one to en­joy.’’

Lit­ter picker Vern John­son aug­ments his daily Hi­matangi Beach walks with im­promptu rub­bish col­lec­tion, a pas­time he finds sur­pris­ingly ther­a­peu­tic and re­ward­ing.

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