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5 surprising health benefits of litter picking

Litter picking in the local neighbourhood is one of those things that you often think you should do, as you pass all the rubbish on the school run, but rarely get around to.

Until, one day, you do.

My litter-picking life started when my husband came home from a visit to a pound shop (one of his favourite places and one of my least favourites) with a litter picker after hearing me complain about the local litter one too many time.

Months later, we joined a local community litter pick and through the climate action group I set up with a friend, started promoting our ownto the community. Nowadays the chaps and chappettes from Bristol Waste who drive around emptying the council bins for us, often stop me to say thank you and give me a load more bags.

And while taking a picker and rubbish bags on a walk with the kids is a bit of a faff, agreed, it's also so positive is so many ways.

Here are just 5 of the surprising health benefits to litter picking (as well as all the obvious ones like helping save wildlife, making the neighbourhoodlook nicer, showing your kids how to be a responsible citizen, feeling smug etc)

1. You get to know your community.

While I don't know everyone by name yet, I am being stopped by and chatting to lots more people inmy nieghbourhood and while I'm an introvert so don't always want to be that chatty, even I have to admit that it lifts your spirits when you meet new folk and stopto chat with familiar faces.

2. You get to feel great from all the gratitude.

Seriously, I've never had more thank yous from strangers then when we're out on a litter pick walk. Sometimes you sense a littel embarrassment from people that they didn't pick the litter up from outside their own front gate themselves, but mostly people are just greateful, and that feels - well, great! Especially when I've got the kids with me, they feel the buzz too.

3. You have to slow down.

I'm used to taking it slowly with my stone-obsessed magpie of a 4 year old walking with me but litter picking brings it to whole new level. It forces you to slow down and notice, not just the litter but the flowers and birds, the cracks in the pavement and people's gardens, the leaves and the insects. All the tiny details our kids always spot but we’re too busy to. And it feels good.

(Here are my litter picking superheroes)

4. You get to THINK or listen to a podcast, or some music ...

or whatever you prefer but basically litter picking gives you a good excuse to do something other than work, housework or mumming without the guilt. So enjoy the ‘me time’.

That's assuming you've not got the kids with you every time of course. Otherwise

you'll be more likely to hear the sound of arguing over who gets to use the picker (my advice, get one for each of you but only you carry the bag, it gets HEAVY!).

5. And of course you spend more time outdoors.

Don’t just litter pick your local streets. The hedgerows and rivers are sadly, a horrible haven for litter so immerse yourself in some nearby woods and feel really good about saving a poor duck or hedgehog from injury, whilst enjoying the great outdoors. We have all seen the research and experience the benefits directly of time in nature.

Do you still remember the 'Keep Britain Tidy' ads from the 80's (are you singing those words rather than saying them like I do?). Well that campaign is still going and you can find out all about it and join activities here.

Many councils lend out litter pickers and provide heavy duty rubbish bags too so be sure to get in touch with yours beforeforking out your own cash.

So why not get on out there? Now's as good a time as any, and start reaping the benefits for you and the environment.


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