What a lot of rubbish!
Did you know that 2,500 bags of rubbish are collected every single month in the borough of Ealing? You probably think that’s fair enough, given that Greener Ealing’s purpose is to provide environmental services. But this is in addition to our daily rounds and collections; this enormous volume of litter is picked by LAGER Can (Litter Action Group for Ealing Residents), an active and committed group whose volunteers give up their free time to make Ealing’s open spaces cleaner and greener.
LAGER Can and Greener Ealing share the same vision; to make our borough a pleasant place to live, work and visit without the scourge and risk caused by littering and fly tipping, which causes vermin, unpleasant smells, is a horrible eyesore and has a negative effect on wellbeing.
Although they do a tremendous job we shouldn’t need 1,500 volunteer hours per month, including more than 50 DofE Silver and Bronze Awards students last year, to support Greener Ealing’s daily rounds to help clear up after others. That volunteer time could be redirected to helping others within the community in a different way.
Although the volumes of litter make for a rather bleak statistic, Cathy Swift, Chair of LAGER Can, who says she has been picking up litter for as long as she can remember, maintains that 80% of residents and businesses do the right thing, and it’s a minority whose actions have such a negative effect on the rest of us.
So we asked Cathy, given all her experience and knowledge, how she thinks we can challenge and improve the destructive behaviour of the few.
Cathy’s strategy is, in her own words, mind-blowingly simple: “Let’s make it as easy as possible for people to dispose of their rubbish responsibly.” And by that, Cathy is referring to what she calls the ‘Binfrastructure’. This is about ensuring we have enough bin provision in the right places with high footfall, not just bus stops and outside schools, and that they are serviced as often as they need to be.
Recyling and fly tipping
We also need to be as clear as possible about what constitutes recycling that will be collected from residents’ homes by Greener Ealing so it doesn’t get left behind. If you’re unsure, do double check what can be recycled from home, either in your blue wheelie bin or in clear bags.
To address fly tipping, the responsible disposal of large items must be cost-effective and convenient, regardless of how close you live to a recycling centre or if you don’t have transport. Please check out Ealing Council’s website for all your recycling options.
Cathy believes that many residents don’t even realise that leaving rubbish by bins, and leaving items they don’t want on the pavement, is flytipping. There is also an issue that some residents in multiple occupancy homes have not been assigned bins by their landlords – LAGER Can will liaise with Ealing Council to support residents with this issue.
Education is key to future success
Of course, education is key to future success and encouraging children and young people to take pride in where they live and understand the effect of their actions is essential. LAGER Can has a school outreach programme engaging younger children and encouraging regular litter picks.
Greener Ealing is also developing stronger links with primary and senior schools to celebrate the value of green spaces and communicate the importance of keeping them clean and tidy for everybody to enjoy.
Greener Ealing will continue to strive to improve our street cleansing, litter picking, refuse collection and recycling services and to make it as convenient as possible for everyone to do the right thing. We will also always support the volunteers of LAGER Can in any way we can until, hopefully, we’ll be in a position where they can hang up their bags!
Until then, all we ask is that you do your bit and help us to keep the borough tidy.