Coronavirus: Litter campaigner delighted that lockdown has led to decrease in rural rubbish
A Co Down women is helping to address ‘litter blindness’ with a campaign to highlight the amount of rubbish dumped on rural roads.
However, in the past few weeks Evelyn McBurney from Ballyward has been amazed how the appearance of the countryside has improved and hopes it can stay that way once people are out and about again in large numbers.
Evelyn calls her campaign BINdemic and her aim is to persuade people to stop dropping litter and consider the £45 million spent on cleaning up litter in Northern Ireland (according to a report by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful).
She explained how she is using labelled bags of rubbish to send a positive message while also highlighting the problem.
Evelyn said: “I’m out here between Rathfriland, Banbridge and Castlewellan. You get quite a lot of litter from people who’ve finished their takeaways and thrown their cartons or tins or bottles out the window of their vehicles.
“These people can’t see litter, they’re litter blind, so I gather it up close to my own gate and put a stencil on the bag with a positive message about binning litter to save £45 million which could be spent on the National Health Service. Right now there’s nothing better we could support.
“There was a bit of controversy because the bags gave the impression of fly tipping, but we got that sorted out.”
She added: “I was picking up litter two or three times a week before lockdown, but I’ve done it now on a daily basis because it’s part of my lockdown walk. It feels like a good time – we’ve rested the earth, we’ve got lovely weather, it’s time to spring clean our bit of the planet.
“I go out every day, I started out with my own road and then extended it to other wee rural roads around here.
“On my own very rural road would I would have easily got a bag of rubbish every time I went out. At Lackan Bog, an Area of Special Scientific Interest, the litter that was 10 foot below the road was phenomenal. I took 20 black bin bags from there alone.
“I am absolutely amazed at the change since lockdown. This week I could only find three fresh bits of litter – two wrappers and a bottle.
“How great would it be if this continued after lockdown?”
Evelyn said she began her campaign to keep her area tidy after learning that £45 million is spent on street cleaning.
She said: “Sir Tom raised £32 million yet we’re throwing £45 million in the bin, because we don’t throw stuff in the bin.
“People must think I’m a right Womble, but I think it needs to be shouted from the rooftops that £45 million is being wasted on rubbish.
“It shouldn’t be too much to ask for people to wait until they get home to throw stuff in the bin.”