A group of women from Crayford have taken littering into their own hands, spending hours cleaning up south east London parks covered in rubbish left by groups of people enjoying the sun and eased lockdown restrictions.
Four women, led by mother Louise Jackson, said they grew so frustrated following a picnic one day that they went back and cleared the entire field of rubbish, finding some disgusting items along the way including used condoms and soiled nappies.
The group are regular dog-walkers in parks such as Dartford Lakes and Danson Park, and have now spent dozens of hours in the last week cleaning up rubbish.
Recent hot weather and easing of the Government’s lockdown rules have lead to large crowds building in parks across south London, with questionable social distancing.
The groups, often drinking and barbecuing, are leaving behind heaps of waste, ruining the green spaces for others, and the local wildlife.
Louise, 35, said she had found it “so upsetting” to see the parks in such a state, but after deciding to clean up one park, it felt so good they decided to do it again.
Louise has now formed a litter picking team along with friends Katie, Lucy and Gina Crabb, and her own son Alfie.
The group spent three hours in Danson Park, collecting 18 bin bags full of rubbish, before moving onto Dartford Lakes where they filled 20.
“At first we were counting the bags as we collected them, it felt like a great achievement, but we quickly lost count.
“We’ve found everything amongst all the plastic and used bottles… used condoms, soiled nappies, drugs, thousands of those NOS cannisters.
“That was actually quite shocking to find, places like Dartford Lakes are beautiful, and currently they’re just ruined.”
Ms Jackson said she blamed laziness for the parks getting so cluttered in the first place.
“There are bins around, but I don’t think people care. Often it’s the younger generation, they’re happy to sit there with their cannisters, not afraid at all to do it in full view.
“It would help if we had more bins in the middle of parks, but there’s only so much you can do – People need to take care of their environment, clean after themselves.”
The group, hairdressers in Crayford, say they are now keen to keep up their efforts and are arranging help from the council too.
“It’s so satisfying to see the parks clean, for me it’s all about the wildlife,” said Louise.
“We’re not doing it for praise, but hopefully other people will see us and think I’d like to do that, or even just do their little bit.
“But there’s not too much to do in lockdown for hairdressers, and it feels really good to know the park is cleaner, even if we know it won’t last.
“So we’re definitely going to keep it up.”