Monday Meditation: Cleaning Up the Neighbourhood

Last week, in my post Monday Meditation: My Walk Around the *Neigh*bourhood, I wrote about my walk up to the horses’ field and shared some happy memories of times past: spending time with them, taking treats and sharing precious moments. I wanted to keep the tone of that post positive, so I didn’t go into detail about the less pleasant aspect of the walk. This week, I shall elaborate on what made me so frustrated and angry.

This is what greeted me when I arrived at the field:

I was aghast at how much rubbish there was, just around the gate. I began to look up and down the grass verge along the busy road, and in the hedges.

So many plastic bottles, drinks cans, crisp packets and wrappers, whisky bottles, takeaway cartons. There was even a carrier bag full of takeaway cartons thrown into the hedge. My thought was: the clue is in the name, it’s called ‘takeaway’, ie you take it away! Some of it could have been blown there after a refuse collection: bits of cardboard, crips packets etc, but it was obvious much of it had either been thrown from passing cars or dropped by people congregating or walking past. (There is a waste bin a few yards away).

As I looked, I wished I had brought a bag with me, but then realised one bag wasn’t going to do it anyway and I couldn’t have picked up all the litter and carried it by myself.

I walked home, slowly, subdued, pondering on why people would have so little regard for their environment, and the amount of damage to wildlife.

39DF2B78-A987-4713-BBEC-A8B5823CDBC5This field and verge is the first thing you see when entering our small country town, and it doesn’t exactly make you want to stop and support local businesses or visit local tourist attractions. Our town has a long history and still has some Tudor buildings, a canal, a lake, lots of Blue Plaques detailing where famous people lived or visited, old pubs and so on.

B22E4613-CE66-44EB-9FF8-0DA7489D089DIt used to be on the route taken by the Royal Court on its way north, and provided fish for royal banquets. Charles Dickens stayed here, it’s rumoured he got his inspiration for Miss Haversham during that visit. Princess (later Queen) Victoria stayed at a local inn which was later renamed in her honour. We still have cobblestones, an annual carnival, Old Tyme Market, a nocturnal bike race.

On my way home, I began to notice all the litter under the hedgerows, and flattened cans and bottles in the gutter at the roadside. There was even a plastic wheel hub on the pavement.

This is a rural area, not an inner city. I couldn’t understand it. I realised as I walked, eyes down, how much litter we walk past every day, we have become innured to it. We live in an area surrounded by several schools, and a lot of the rubbish is from the school kids on their way home. Other things, takeaway cartons, beer cans, for instance, is what is discarded on the way home from a night out at the weekend. Some is discarded by parents parked outside schools waiting for their children, or dropped by the children getting into the cars: hairbands, hairslides, bits of paper, sweet wrappers, cigarette ends.

I told my husband when I got home, hoping but not daring to ask that he would say what he did: I’ll help you.

Next day, in cold but fine weather, we set off with large recycled charity bin-bags (the ones that regularly get pushed through our letterbox and collect in the cupboard of our utility room), disposable gloves and two grab sticks.

This was our haul:

We gathered all this from about a hundred and fifty yard stretch by the field and then another 2 bags on the way home, including the wheel hub that was still lying on the path. It was pretty hair-raising at times with traffic hurtling past as they came off the by-pass onto the residential area.

It took about 2 hours and at one point the first bag split, but some gardeners working on a new housing development nearby let us empty it into their skip. They told us, if we needed to do it again another day, just to go around the corner and use the builders’ skip. They appreciated what we were doing.

Just as we neared home and were pretty tired, a local authority highway maintenance truck driver nodded to me and gave me the thumbs up, which made me smile. I found myself humming Lonnie Donnegan’s ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ as we headed for home! (See video link below*)

It had been an exhausting – and cold! – couple of hours’ work, I hurt all over and wanted a hot shower, but I felt so much better about this day’s walk than the previous one, I was no longer angry.

I felt proud that I had actually been able to do something for the community.  We must have walked and driven past all this litter so many times, I don’t why it had such an effect on me this time, but I’m glad I noticed and that I was able – with my husband’s help – to take some action, and not just send off an irate email to the Refuse Department of the Local Authority!

We became even more determined to ditch as much plastic as we could from our regular shopping. I regularly support campaigns and sign petitions calling for a ban on single-use plastic items: straws, bottles, takeaway cutlery etc. but I realise, that’s not enough.

Sitting at a keyboard is easy, actions are what count.

Related posts:

Let’s Ditch the Plastic

Earth Day: Microbeads – What Are They Good For…?

* A fun video: My Old Man’s A Dustman by Lonnie Donnegan

Copyright: Chris McGowan

10 Things You Never Need to Buy

This is a great post from with her list of Ten Things You Never Need To Buy! I started thinking about things we never buy because we re-use what comes into the house and thought I would post it here too. Maybe you could pass it on and we can get everyone thinking about the stuff they don’t really need:

Here’s my list:

  1. padded bags
  2. bubble wrap
  3. A5 brown envelopes
  4. A4 brown envelopes
  5. cardboard boxes
  6. plastic clothes bags from online companies
  7. string
  8. ribbon
  9. wrapping paper
  10. storage jars

We haven’t bought any of them in decades, seriously.

I have a cupboard full of the first 9 items that my grandsons used to love playing postmen with! I re-use every one that comes through the door.

We re-use the plastic clothes bags to post things I sell on ebay.

We save the string from our organic veg box delivery.

Ribbon is saved from presents, clothes etc.

Wrapping paper is always saved and re-used at Christmas and birthdays and it’s also used for cutting out patterns/shapes etc for cards and so on.

We reuse my husband’s favourite marmalade jars for storing nuts, seeds, grains, pulses etc and when we make juices for the day, we put them in the jars in the fridge. We have a cupboard full of them in the kitchen and periodically we donate them to people who make jam/pickles or to the local charity shop.

So that’s my list! What’s yours? Pass it on…


“We got our inspiration for this post by reading Suburban Pioneers’ list of 10 common products you never need to buy, so we thought we’d spread the wealth and add to their list. So, this is really a…

Source: 10 Things You Never Need to Buy

Earth Day Comp: Win Stylish Grip & Go Glass Bottles & Let’s Ditch the Plastic!

[ Thank you for visiting, this competition is now closed, but please do read the post anyway…]

Today is Earth Day and to celebrate our amazing planet, I am holding a competition to win a generous giveaway of 2 prizes of not one, not two, but THREE Grip and Go glass bottles! And that’s not all…

Many of you have admired my Grip and Go bottles that I use for storing nut milk and now you have a chance to win your own, thanks to their kind donation of some fabulously stylish bottles – plus an added extra…

But first, there’s a condition:

You have to Read ‘The Science Bit’!

We have all seen the warnings in the media about the piles of plastic clogging up our oceans, littering our hedgerows and harming wildlife. We read the articles and watch the news heralding predictions that there will be more plastic than fish in our seas by 2050 – whilst sipping from our plastic water bottles, popping the plastic takeaway box in the microwave and wrapping leftovers in clingfilm.

It is hard to contemplate a world without plastic, we have grown so used to it in every aspect of our daily lives.

But its production and disposal is choking our planet and harming our health, with chemicals leaching into our food and water, potentially causing cancer, hormone disruption and asthma in children.

Plastic water bottles are a huge contributor to these problems.


Warm Weather and Plastic Water Bottles

How many of us carry plastic water bottles in the car and leave them there in the sun, often for several days?

Chemicals from the plastic are slowly leaching into the water as the plastic warms up:

  • Antimony (causes chronic health conditions, including diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach ulcers)
  • Bromine (causes irritation to skin and mucous membranes)
  • Endocrine Disrupters affecting hormones, thyroid function etc.
  • Cancer-causing agents 
  • Phthalates used as plastic softeners, associated with asthma in children.

Those plastic bottles will already be old by the time you buy them, having travelled halfway around the globe before you put them in your supermarket trolley, transport them in your warm car and store them in your warm home.

Some well-documented statistics about plastic bottles:

  • In the US, 50 Billion plastic bottles are bought every year and 80% of them end up in landfill.
  • More than 60 Million plastic bottles are thrown away every day in the US alone.
  • Just 1 plastic bottle takes 450 years to completely break down – that’s 25 generations!
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used every year in their production.
  • Bottled water costs 1,000 times more than tap water.

  • In the UK, as of 2007, an estimated 13 Billion plastic bottles of water were sold of which only 3 Billion were recycled.
  • The UK consumes 3 Billion litres of bottled water per year.
  • Despite the UK bottled water industry using increasing amounts of recycled plastic, it still creates a huge waste problem from discarded bottles which litter our hedgerows, streets and streams and often end up in the sea via our rivers.

  • 1 refuse truck worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute and it is getting worse.
  • The Eastern Garbage Patch is an area of ocean 6 times the size of England and is the world’s largest refuse dump.

  • Last year, a report by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced that by 2050 there will likely be more plastic than fish in the sea.
  • Their research found more than 5 Trillion pieces of plastic floating in the seas, many just 5 mm across making it easy for sea life to ingest.
  • Toxic chemicals leached from the plastic when it breaks down may be ingested by sea life and end up in the human food chain.

Here’s one solution:

Reuseable Glass Bottles!

Grip and Go have very generously supplied 6 of their stylish, leakproof, dishwasher-safe glass bottles as prizes in our competition.

350 mls.                    500 mls.                        1 Litre.

There will be two prizes of three bottles each, one prize to be won on Facebook, one on Twitter. You can even choose the colours!

But that’s not all!

In addition to the bottles, there will also be two Double-walled Insulated Travel Mugs, one to go with each prize.


This is a fantastic prize.

All you have to do is Like and Follow Grip & Go on Facebook and/or Twitter (@gripandgouk) for a chance to win these gorgeous bottles.

The competition will run from Mid-day Friday, 22nd April, 2016 and end at Midnight on Friday, 29th April, 2016.

Winners will be chosen at random.

(NB Apologies to all non-UK residents: due to the nature and weight of the prize, unfortunately this competition is only open to UK-based followers).

Just click on the link below to go to their web site, have a look at the bottles and travel mugs, decide which colours you’d like, click on their Twitter and Facebook links, Like And Follow using #earthdaycomp.

Like and Follow. #earthdaycomp. Easy-Peasy!

Good Luck!

Grip and Go

Twitter: @gripandgouk

Grip and Go Facebook link



Ban the Bottle

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Guardian

Io9 We Come From The Future

Copyright: Chris McGowan