Retailer Hitesh Pabari and a supporting crew from Wrigley, C-Store and Keep Britain Tidy took to the streets to spruce up his local community
Hedgerows blighted by discarded cans? Pavements spoilt by cigarette butts and rubbish? Not in the town of Bushey, Hertfordshire, where thanks to retailer Hitesh Pabari and the team from Keep Britain Tidy and its supporter Wrigley, the streets are now sparkling.
As the winning recipient of a litter pick, a seven-strong team including representatives from Keep Britain Tidy, campaign supporter Wrigley, C-Store and Hitesh himself set out one late summer morning to clean up his local neighbourhood.
Before the group set off they were visited by a photographer from Hitesh’s local paper, the Watford Observer, keen to highlight a local retailer’s efforts to improve his community, and providing Hitesh’s Jessica’s Mini Supermarket with some invaluable publicity into the bargain. “It’s really great to have coverage from the local paper because hopefully it will show the community that I am trying to achieve a better town for everyone to live in,” says Hitesh.
“It’s been a really eye-opening experience – one I would be very happy to repeat. It’s clear we have some areas in Bushey which are worse than others and I would like to bring this to the community’s attention. I do my best to tidy up the rubbish outside my store, but there’s only so much one pair of hands can do. With two schools near the shop, we need to set a good example for the children. This is very hard to do when a lot of the rubbish is coming from passers-by who throw it mindlessly out of their car.”
Hitesh Pabarbi, Jessica’s Mini Supermarket, Bushey
As the team wound their way through the residential areas of Bushey, wearing bright green Keep Britain Tidy tabards, carrying plastic bags and litter pickers, their efforts weren’t missed by the locals. “One resident asked me if this was going to be a regular thing because it would really benefit the community,” says Hitesh. “It has really spurred me on to get in touch with the council so I can organise regular litter picks.”
“It’s great to see events like this taking place. Hitesh is obviously really passionate about his store, and making sure the surrounding areas are clean and tidy is a huge part of that. Local retailers getting involved in litter picks helps highlight the importance of making the local area tidy in a way that also brings the community together. We hope our continued support for Keep Britain Tidy will see more retailers do their bit and help to further educate shoppers about the importance of keeping their communities clean.”
Alex West, senior corporate affairs manager, UK & Ireland, at Wrigley
After a week of rain, the team had to use their best litter-picking skills to prise the sodden scraps of paper and water-filled bottles off the pavements. They covered quite a bit of ground, naturally splitting up into two groups with each taking up one side of the road to make sure nothing was missed.
As bags started to bulge a competitive spirit grew among the group as each person battled to collect the most rubbish. The feeling of finding a large discarded item and managing to pick it up with just the litter picker was euphoric.
What the team found was quite surprising. Aside from the usual cigarette ends, bottles and cans, one of the most frequently dropped pieces of litter seemed to be elastic bands. The group was perplexed by where these had come from, but Clare Northall, communications and digital officer at Keep Britain Tidy, thought they could have come from postal workers, given that they get through two million red rubber bands a day.
A lot of the litter was brushed to the kerb and hiding under car wheels, but this didn’t deter the team who were able to manoeuvre the litter pickers through the small gaps. Doggy bags had also been hidden behind posts in the street, but ‘out of sight, out of mind’ didn’t sit well with our tenacious group, who quickly disposed of them.
Fenced off areas among the streets held the most litter, as it seems people mindlessly walk past and toss over unwanted items in the hope they’ll be buried beneath the undergrowth. But they weren’t hidden well enough for our keen team’s eyes, who discovered large pieces of plastic sheeting, general rubbish and, most surprisingly, a large pair of secateurs.
“It’s a sad fact that some items end up as litter on our streets, but it’s great that retailers like Hitesh care enough to not only take pride in their local area, but to do something about it. We’re calling on all store owners to encourage customers to put used crisp packets, sweet wrappers, cans, chewing gum and cigarette butts in the bin – and do their bit to Keep Britain Tidy.”
Clare Northall, Communications and digital officer, Keep Britain Tidy
With the sun deciding to make an appearance throughout the morning and each person filling at least one large bag each, the day was a success. Says Hitesh: “There are many more streets to tackle, but we can only cover so much ground at any one time. With the coverage from the paper and the feedback from the public today I hope the community will support me in the future as I endeavour to make litter picks a regular occurrence.”
With all hands on deck it took only a few hours of everyone’s time to ensure the rubbish was swept away, making the area look a lot cleaner. And with an enthusiastic Hitesh there to keep an eye on the place, the team is confident Bushey will stay that way.
If you would like to hold your own litter pick, or get involved in other Keep Britain Tidy projects, go to www.keepbritaintidy.org and find out more about projects running the length and breadth of the country.