‘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.