Don’t get angry, get positive … get picking

Will Goodchild on lockdown litter picking
Pictures by Fiona Freund

children picking up litter
Chester and Emile get busy

Since going back on furlough in mid-July I have been litter picking in Brockwell Park. I love this park and use it every day. It’s been enormously satisfying to help clean it up.

Lockdown has exacerbated the problem with litter. With no clubs or festivals, more people are socialising in the park. Sadly, a lot of them leave their party paraphernalia. “Leave no trace” is such a brilliant, simple mantra. I wish more people would live by it.

woman picking litter
Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Will Goodchild

I live alone, so the pandemic has put the kibosh on much of my social contact. Picking litter has been a great way to see people. I often stop and chat with strangers. People say hello and thank you. Even just a smile or a wave is a meaningful human connection. 

The Sunday Group is next level. (We meet every Sunday 11am at Brockwell Clock Tower.) I’ve met so many wonderful, socially minded people.

It’s a great way to socialise with them safely. It’s also a lot of fun!

Local MP Bell Rebeiro-Addy was very receptive to our ideas and what we were doing. She got properly stuck in too – did her fair share of litter picking! A very cool lady.

man stands in front of lined-up grou0p
Park keeper Danny – litter keeps him and his colleagues from gardening

The park keepers are overwhelmed by the levels of trash. There’s no way they can clean up all of it. The sad thing is it takes them away from their other work. They’re picking up litter when they should be gardening.

It would be easy to get angry. The mess some people leave is mind-boggling. But I try to focus on the positive and enjoy the experience of picking up junk. It’s very relaxing actually, almost meditative.

group of people in front of clocktower
open-air gout of people getting briefing
Will briefs the pickers
broken china on grass
bottle tops on grass
chewing gum on tree
Yes, that’s chewing gum