'I don't want them to see the mess and think that nobody cares': Determined Leither spends five hours clearing her area of litter

Local Sheila Masson spent her Sunday morning on the streets of Leith clearing nine bags of litter, including a high amount of used drug paraphernalia.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 4:45 pm

She was driven to this by the high levels of litter in the Kirkgate area in recent weeks, saying: “I have been actively avoiding walking along there for about a week because I found it so depressing due to the amount of cans, bottles, crisp packets, sweet wrappers, etc, that have clearly been

tossed into the gardens.

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Picture credit: Sheila Masson

"Some of it may be due to the wind, but a lot of it was deliberately thrown, despite there being bins at regular intervals along the walkway.

"As the weather was nice at the weekend, I decided to spend Sunday morning cleaning it up. I not only do it for myself, but genuinely for the community at large.

"While I'm litter picking I think about all the little kids who grow up here – I don't want them to think that this is normal, that it's acceptable to have litter where they live and play.

"I don't want them to fall on broken glass, or find hypodermic syringes in their playgrounds.

"I think about the elderly residents who walk through these streets, and who can't physically pick up the litter – I don't want them to see the mess and think that nobody cares."

Sheila, a professional photographer, has been an enthusiastic volunteer across the Capital for many years, joining community group Leithers Don't Litter which allocated members different streets to keep clean.

She says that Covid restrictions have lead to higher take out rubbish and single use containers, which in turn has caused a greater amount of litter on the streets adding: “Bins are overflowing with all of these single-use containers, and particularly in Leith, these items end up blowing down the

street and into the Water of Leith, ultimately ending up in the sea.

"The council definitely needs to empty the public bins more often in order to stop this from happening and also make sure that all big bins have lids to stop the wind from adding to the problem.

"However, it would also help if people would either take home their own litter or if they find that a bin is already full, then they should just continue on until they find one that isn't overflowing.

"It's not rocket science, but it feels like some people just don't care and won't make that little bit of extra effort.”

"There does seem to be a huge disconnect in how some people view their community and their green spaces.

"I've seen people choose a nice, clean spot in Leith Links and have a lovely picnic with their friends and kids, and then leave all of their rubbish, cans, and even dirty nappies behind them on the grass.

"They wouldn't choose to sit in a spot that was dirty and filled with litter, so why is it OK to leave it like that?”

Sheila hopes that if people see a local making an effort to clear the streets, they will be inspired to do the same, or at least make more of an effort to dispose of their own rubbish properly.

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