Friends set up walking group to tackle littering

A WOKING woman and a friend from Guildford have set up a group to tackle the growing problem of littering.

Lauren Horncastle and Elaine Fowler decided to start picking up litter during their lockdown walks after becoming tired of seeing so much rubbish scattered all over places they enjoyed.

IT’S IN THE BAG – Lauren (left) and Elaine (right) on a recent litter-picking walk

As both have full-time jobs their efforts are confined to weekends, prompting them to set up a Facebook group to encourage others to join their cause.

It has become so popular that in a matter of weeks the initial membership of two has grown to 75, with more joining all the time.

“We were shocked by the sheer amount of refuse that people discard from their cars or on their own walks and decided to try to do something about it,” Lauren said.

 “After several outings now, we think it might be a bit addictive.

“Elaine and I go out for about five hours, but the time just goes as you’re walking along and chatting. It’s very social, although by the end your arms are getting a bit tired.

“We’ve got permission to litter-pick from the local councils, Woking, Guildford, Surrey, Waverley, and from the Horsell Common Preservation Society.

“Anyone can take a bag out to collect litter, but the problem comes when you have multiple bags, perhaps five or 10 of them.

“That’s when you need to arrange a dropping point with the council or landowner. We don’t want to be accused of fly-tipping after picking up all that rubbish!”

Lauren is hoping that it may be possible to put together larger groups as the lockdown restrictions ease,

“That’s really the point of the Facebook group, that hopefully it will encourage people to get together to clean up their own area, as well as joining events that Elaine and I set up,” Lauren added.

“People can find it a bit lonely going out on their own and may enjoy it more in groups, although it can get surprisingly competitive with pickers trying to find, say, the oldest item.

“You can see them scouring dates and batch numbers. Elaine found a 2012 Olympics Diet Coke can, now she’s trying to beat that!”

Lauren has her hit list of discarded litter, dotted with the usual offenders.

“Smoking is always a regular,” she said. “Cigarette butts, packets, roll your own stuff. Then drinking, all the bottles and cans.

“We’re seeing many more COVID-related items, disposable gloves in the first lockdown and now masks.

“Then, of course, dog-poo bags. We never seem to be short of those.”    

Lauren also illustrated the hazards that litter creates for wildlife.

“We found an empty bottle of soft drink with the top off. It had emptied out but left a sweet residue inside and round the neck of the bottle.

“A pair of mice had crawled into the bottle, drawn by the sweet taste, but then got stuck and couldn’t get out.

“That’s how we found it – an empty bottle with the two dead mice inside. So sad.”

* For more information, find Guildford and Woking Litterpicking, Surrey UK on Facebook –

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