Embracing environmental stewardship

A blog post by Gap Litter Busters

Gap Litter Busters

Posted 28/03/2024

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The GAP Litter Busters, a dedicated group of volunteers operating in Wester Ross, are thrilled to join forces with us as part of #SpringCleanScotland campaign. In this brilliant guest blog their dedicated volunteers share why they do what they do.

GAP Litter Busters operate in areas across Wester Ross

The GAP Litter Busters are a dedicated group of 18 volunteers operating across Gairloch, Aultbea and Poolewe in Wester Ross. Located in the North West Highlands, the area is renowned for its dramatic landscapes. It is home to some of the most breathtaking beaches, where sandy shores give way to clear, turquoise waters and the horizon is punctuated by the silhouettes of distant islands.

The area, which sees a significant influx of tourists each summer, is our home and the Litter Busters are committed to keeping it clean. As Sadie, one of the volunteers, aptly puts it: “I do it because I don't like the sight of litter, and I think it gives the wrong impression to visitors.”

In 2023 alone, our volunteers dedicated 130 hours to litter picking, filling an impressive 201 supermarket 'bags for life' with collected litter. Beyond the visual improvement, our work helps protect local wildlife and contributes to the overall health of our environment. Laura, another one of our dedicated volunteers, shared her perspective: “I volunteer because I am horrified by the pollution in the sea worldwide and want to do my little bit. Every time I pick up a piece of plastic on the sea front at Melvaig I think, well that's an otter or bird saved from choking or getting injured.”

While the coastal nature of Wester Ross offers stunning biodiversity, it is particularly vulnerable to litter pollution. Discarded waste, particularly plastic, is a significant threat to marine and coastal ecosystems. Animals, both marine and terrestrial, can mistake litter for food, leading to ingestion and entanglement incidents that can be fatal.

Therefore, the work of groups like GAP Litter Busters is critical in mitigating these harmful effects and preserving the natural beauty and biodiversity of Wester Ross.

Jenni, a Litter Buster volunteer, explains her motivation for joining the cause, stating: “I volunteer as a Litter Buster as it's an easy way to participate and record what I gather. I am concerned for the environment, both the appearance and the harm to nature.” By participating in a community group focused on litter picking, volunteers like Jenni benefit from mutual support and encouragement. Meeting up with others to pick in different areas fosters a sense of community and amplifies their impact.

"Being part of a community of litter pickers is motivating."

Rebecca Wolfenden, GALE Volunteer Coordinator, acknowledges the Litter Buster Volunteers as an inspiration to the entire community: “Their unwavering commitment to litter picking in all weather conditions, coupled with their meticulous record-keeping, is truly commendable. As Wester Ross is located along the North Coast 500, the volunteers have noticed a change in the type of litter left during the tourist season. By documenting these findings, they raise awareness and educate both locally, through community councils, and nationally, through Keep Scotland Beautiful. Their passion for safeguarding the environment and preserving wildlife shines through.”

The GALE Litter Busters wholeheartedly encourage everyone to participate in the #SpringCleanScotland campaign. Alison, a dedicated volunteer, sums it up best by saying: “I enjoy litter busting - if you ask my husband, he might say I am obsessed!! But I like to think I make a difference. Being part of a community of litter pickers is motivating. One feels one belongs to a community of like-minded people.” By joining this campaign, individuals not only contribute to the cleanliness of their community but also become part of a supportive network of like-minded individuals who share a passion for protecting the planet.

The collaboration between the GALE Litter Busters and Keep Scotland Beautiful for the #SpringCleanScotland campaign is a powerful alliance aimed at preserving the beauty of Wester Ross and promoting environmental consciousness. Through their dedication, the Litter Busters inspire others to take action and make a positive impact on their surroundings. Joining this campaign allows individuals to contribute to a cleaner environment while becoming part of a community that shares their passion for a sustainable future. Let's unite and make a difference in the upcoming #SpringCleanScotland campaign!

#SpringCleanScotland is currently underway and runs until 28 April. We've already had more than 15,000 people register to take part. Join us now, register a litter pick and help us keep Scotland beautiful.

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