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Make a pledge to join #SpringCleanScotland 2024

A blog post by Mike Scotland

Environmental ambassador Mike Scotland calls for people across the country to take part in this year's #SpringCleanScotland and shares his own litter picking journey, from picking up rubbish one piece at a time to orchestrating a group clean up of more than 400 bags of litter in Aberdeen.

On the land and in the sea, wherever you go, litter will be.

An unfortunate truth I've found since starting my litter picking journey back in 2019. I don't think I’ve suffered from litter blindness, but it wasn't until I made the choice to start picking up litter that I began to see it everywhere I went.

In 2019 I came face to face with a mental health challenge that almost took my life. Consumed within my thoughts and internal darkness, I received a call that saved my life and prevented me from leaving this world. That moment gave me a new lease of life, purpose, and mission to make positive change. What I didn't know at the time, though, was that the change would be to fight against the litter crisis that has been suffocating our planet for too long!

One morning I took a few black bags to a nearby riverside that had been used as a dumping ground for decades, and I began picking up rubbish one piece at a time. I was only around 30 minutes into my little pick when a person who was cycling by stopped and asked me what I was doing. It caught me completely off guard and, in a very embarrassed response, I said, "picking up rubbish.”

The person then asked if I would like some help doing it and of course I said yes. That person’s name was Massimo and for the next couple of hours, we picked up litter and spoke about everything and anything that came to mind. The time passed faster than our hands could move but after gathering three full black bags of litter, there was a small but noticeable difference made and that is when the idea came to me: I will create a group, call it Community cleanUP and it will become a global movement!

The very next morning Community cleanUP was born and has grown ever since. I started organising cleanUP events around local areas in Aberdeen City and within a few months that area which was once used as a dumping ground had more than 13,000 kilograms of rubbish removed from a 300m stretch of riverside and over 3,000 kilograms of metals removed from the river which was then transformed into a nature trail and relaxing seating area for people to take in the beautiful scenery and a place to just switch off, rest and re-adjust their mindset.

The river had become so much clearer that otters had begun to swim upstream for the first time in 40 years and created a huge attraction across the city and villages of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Being part of a litter picking community is something like no other I've experienced before. Having come from a football dominated sporting background I had worked hard within one team to try and conquer another team as we fought towards achieving a victory, but being surrounded by like-minded individuals and working with them to achieve the same goal is so much more powerful and uplifting, and each and every person is united in one team trying to conquer a much bigger goal than a ball in the back of a net.

As a leader of change, and someone who knows the benefits litter picking brings to the environment, I also know how much it can benefit yourself as a person in so many ways and that is why I would encourage others to get involved with it. There are so many ways you can get involved with litter picking and this year you can join in with Keep Scotland Beautiful’s #SpringCleanScotland campaign.

As an individual you can make a difference in an area, but as a team you can make a difference to the world and that's exactly what the Spring Clean is all about. I never ask people directly if they want to start litter picking, but rather just ask yourself if you are happy seeing litter wherever you go. If the answer is no, you may be the one person who can change it, so why wait?

There's no "I" in team but there is a "U" in commUnity.

Positive Energy, Good to GO

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