01 May 2019

A walk from my doorstep

Post written by: Erin Walcon

Over the April holidays, I took an unexpected walk.

My car was in the shop for its MOT, and I needed to pick it up, and on a whim on my way out the door, I grabbed a set of gloves and a black bin bag.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of litter I see on a daily basis – overwhelmed and kind of despairing. It disgusts me but also makes me feel really powerless.

So, in the spirit of the #CleanUpYourDoorstep campaign, I thought I’d take a 15 minute walk and do something about it – try to literally walk my talk, as it were.

(This #CleanUpYourDoorstep environmental campaign is running from 1 May to 1 July in Torbay – download a poster competition form here!) The idea of #CleanUpYourDoorstep is to encourage daily and small actions which can make a big difference – in the spirit of beach cleans and the #TrashChallenge. A lot of us can make a massive difference just by taking 30 seconds out of our day to stop and sort out some litter.

It’s a little thing – but small actions create bigger ripples.

My local neighbourhood is a litter-magnet area. I live right off a fairly main road, and there is a lot of commuter traffic and a lot of pedestrian footfall. It’s a thoroughfare, and it seems like litter just accumulates really quickly here.

So I took a quick meander, and I found a few odd and wonderful treasures along the way, including a set of greyed-out polaroids (??), a discarded card to a special boyfriend (!!) and the top of a badminton racket. Just the top.

Firstly – wonderings.

You could build a whole theatre show based simply on those 3 discarded items as the stimulus… it’s tempting to do it. The relationship that went wrong over a bad game of badminton and the photo that no one would ever see. It’s a great premise, right?

I also found some delightful spots and little glimpses of spring.

This lovely little nook was tucked away, right by my daily drive. I’d never noticed it from my car. Heart-lifting.

Tis the season of wild garlic – and wow, what a wonder it is! It’s everywhere right now – such a lovely surprise to come across it.

Anyhoo, I got home from my 15 minute ramble and sorted the contents of my black bin bag into the recycling.

Most of it was recyclable. And I felt less frustrated and less despairing. (A little.) The world is still big and wide and full of hurt right now. But my little 15-minute loop from my front doorstep and back again brought both wonder and a sense of connection to my little patch of ground – my neighbourhood. 

I’ll do it again soon. Anyone want to join me?

This was my return walk to my house, which had been totally strewn with plastic rubbish and crisp packets before. It was really satisfying to see it clean.

There is always, of course, more to do.

For example, the little pockets of this wall are rammed – literally – with old drinks cans and crisp wrappers. Here are a few photos.

I kept thinking what a great creative project this could be – to try and reclaim these little holes into something magical and creative. Like fairy door-ways? Or tiny art-work portals? Miniature worlds? Story-pockets which hold short stories that people can take? Poetry nooks? Any other ideas? Creative contributions welcome!

In addition to taking part on our #CleanUpYourDoorstep poster competition, here are 5 other simple things we could all do to make a difference this summer:

1. Don a pair of gloves, grab a bin bag and go out on a ‘Doorstep Walk Challenge’ like this – see how much litter you can pick up in a 15 minute loop walk from your front door.
2. Recycle, recycle, recycle. (And check to make sure you know what is recyclable and what isn’t – I was surprised when I checked the Torbay recycling centre website!)
3. Advocate – design a poster, write your local councillor, organise a community clean-up.
4. Have a shopping trip where you try to avoid single-use plastics (it’s really hard!) and then write an email to your supermarket asking them to eliminate single-use plastics.
5. Organise a #CleanUpYourDoorstep party – get together with some friends and see how much difference you can make in a single day. Take before and after photos, and share them to social media – let’s start a movement!