'There's more litter than I've seen in 26 years'
- Credit: Wendy Turner
Litter pickers who are tackling a seemingly growing problem of discarded rubbish feel the time has come for a major public awareness campaign.
Wendy Turner and Andrew Mellen, who are both Green district councillors for Mid Suffolk, undertake regular litter picks in their local areas and have noticed the problem seems to be getting worse.
While Covid-19 has postponed some litter-picking initiatives, Mid Suffolk District Council - which supports community litter pickers - said it would be running more litter and fly-tipping campaigns this year.
Both Mr Mellen and Mrs Turner said there needed to be a national public awareness drive to tackle the problem, like Keep Britain Tidy's push in the 1970s, and Mrs Turner wants to see this combined with bigger fines.
Mrs Turner, who lives in Thurston and is also a district councillor for the ward, collected four bin bags of litter over just two days from a field walk that runs alongside New Road and Mount Road.
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The waste included dog poo bags, drink cans and cups, plastic bags, glass bottles, takeaway containers, face masks, tissues and new gift bags.
She said: "I've seen much more fly-tipping and litter in the last few weeks than I've ever seen in my 26 years living in Thurston.
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"I feel It is impacting on the quality of the villagers and I'm particularly concerned how it is impacting on the wildlife that might be eating it or getting stuck in it. The dog poo bags I feel are a health hazard."
Mr Mellen, who represents the Bacton ward, and his wife Liz have been filling up a binbag each every week with litter collected from the through-roads in their village of Wyverstone.
The waste has included take-away packaging, plastic drink bottles, cans, Vodka bottles, dog poo bags and a handful of face masks.
Mr Mellen, who has been litter picking for years, said: "I just assume people are driving through and when they have finished their can or whatever it is they are chucking it out of their window. It's just incredibly selfish and frustrating."
As well as there seemingly being more litter, Mr Mellen said a lot more people are tidying up as well, possibly connected to people being around their homes and local areas during lockdowns.
A spokesperson for Mid Suffolk District Council said 39 new volunteers had registered with them this year, with 20 signing up in March - normally their busiest group community litter pick month.
The spokesperson said: “Currently, there are more than 100 groups in Mid Suffolk who carry out community litter picks which make a real difference in keeping neighbourhoods tidy and improving the local environment and amenities.
“We as a council are grateful for the work they do and keen to support them by providing litter collection equipment or by arranging equipment loans.
“We will support the larger community litter pick events when they can safely take place again."
The national Keep Britain Tidy campaign has moved its Great British Spring Clean to May 28 to June 13.
Mid Suffolk District Council is also using planned road closures, such as on the A140 this weekend, to carry out litter picks and is raising awareness of littering through a project with local schools, which was put on hold because of the pandemic.
“Our social media feeds also carry regular anti-litter messages and we will be running more litter and fly-tipping campaigns this year,” the spokesperson added.