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Cleaning Up Litter in Harlesden

The Harlesden Neighbourhood Forum organised a day of action for getting our little bit of London cleaner and more pleasant to live in. A bit of a community declutter, if you will. Therefore, I spent this morning wandering around Roundwood Park, picking up litter. Just one of a team doing the same throughout the neighbourhood.

Of course, it will take more than a few of us picking up plastic bottles to change the world, but every little helps.

Who creates the most litter?

Where plastic goes
Tracking where plastics end up

On the face of it, the worst litterers are smokers. 

In researching this post, I found a number of articles, which state that people don’t see cigarette butts as litter! 

It didn’t occur to me that cigarette filters contain plastic and apparently that is true for many of us. We assume filters are made from a natural material, but it is actually something called cellulose acetate.

According to a report by Ocean Conservancy, the top 10 marine litters of the 2018 ICC were, for the first time, all made from plastic [1]. And cigarette butts (smoked cigarette filters) are number 1 on the list.”

As well as being pretty lethal for humans, cigarettes are also killing other animals. The plastic filters, which take years to degrade, and are also a pain to try to pick up! 

Past Catching Up With Me

I admit that I used to smoke. It horrifies me to think of all the harm that I have caused by my own careless actions and ignorance. A cigarette butt that I smoked years ago could, right now, be killing a bird or fish. Then it could get into the food chain and, eventually, leading back to another human.

I have a friend in Belgium who carries her own personal ash tray with her at all times so that she can smoke, stub out her cigarette and take it home with her. Is this a product we need to see more of in this country?

If smokers realised what their filters were made from maybe they would take more care of their disposal. Maybe they would even stop smoking. Filters are also covered with spit and, in these days of COVID-19, we should be more careful with what we leave behind.

Thanks to the Anti-Litter Squad

Neighbourhood group clearing litter

Thank you to all the people in Roundwood Park who came over to thank me or to chat about it. I hope you will join us to volunteer next time.

I also hope that you will think more about how your behaviour affects others. 

Think more carefully about whether you want to buy a plastic bottle or a carton with a plastic straw. 

Think about what you take to a picnic in the park and work out how you will take your litter home or recycle it.

I have to say that doing a ‘pick up litter task’ takes me back to me school days and the joys of after-school detention. Yes, that was indeed handed out to me for smoking! 

*Articles worth a read on this subject, although the figures given in them vary a great deal and I have not tracked down a better source at this time. If you know of a good source and accurate data, please leave a link in the comments.

Break Free From Plastic Organisation

How long do cigarettes take to decompose?

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