I’ve worked in Neepsend, just near Kelham Island, for six years. We lived in a little flat in Kelham Island for three years and moved out in 2016. As well as being the most up and coming area of Sheffield, it’s also one of the most littered.
Every day we walk past such delights as discarded pants, fag ends, energy drinks cans and used condoms.
The River Don runs through the area so some of the litter is likely to end up in the river and then the sea. I didn’t like the idea that a plastic straw from a street in Neepsend could end up impaling a turtle when it’s made its way to sea.
I found the details on Facebook of which council department to contact for litter picking equipment. After many, many attempts and what felt like hours on hold, I eventually got through and ordered some grabbers and bags. Many weeks later, the arrived.
Despite being located next to Sheffield’s poster-child for regeneration, Neepsend is pretty rough. Prostitutes tout for business in the middle of the day, some roads rarely see pedestrians as the area is still so industrial and there are men in hi-vis jackets everywhere, who I’m sure would love to have the ‘the bantz’ with a solo female litter pocket.
I’d have felt a bit self-conscious doing it by myself, so I roped in a few people from work. Four of us set out at dinner time with the goal of seeing how much litter we could pick up in about 20 minutes.
We only covered three streets but filled each of our bags half full with rubbish. It was mainly drinks cans, fag packets and hundreds of cigarette ends. Seriously, everyone in Neepsend must be on 50 a day if the amount of fag ends was anything to go by.
It was actually quite fun – it was nice weather, so it was good to get out the office and have a chat while picking up other people’s discarded underwear.
Litter picking also felt quite mindful as I found myself concentrating on finding the next piece of rubbish.
Maybe litter picking should be the new team building activity? Or a new way to meditate? Who knows, but everyone enjoyed it and we’re going to do it every week.