Everybody’s Business

My name is Oliver, I am 12, and although I don’t have to do it, I pick up litter.

Midway through April, I started the account @uklitterpickers on Instagram. I was generally eco-aware before, but there is a difference between awareness and activism. I didn’t quite know how bad the situation with litter was on our planet, but by learning from other people and following various social media accounts I realised that the reality was much worse than I ever thought. I started picking up litter on walks from time to time and I got a good reception from my friends. This motivated me to launch my account – I feel I need to do something about the current climate crisis we are in.

Whenever I go on a litter picking walk, I always count my litter and take a photo at the end of it helping me to keep track of how much litter has been picked up in my area. At the beginning of May, I joined a group called the 1 PIECE Army (@1piecearmy on Instagram) uniting people from different countries across the world who pick up litter. Their mission is to collect 1 million pieces by the end of 2020. At the time of writing, we have just surpassed 100k pieces across 15 weeks and over 20 countries.

The group is amazing and is growing at an incredible rate, and an all-round pleasure to be in. I also volunteer making a graph and a map every week for their impact report, as well as working closely with the director of the group giving ideas and helping out generally. I have also designed their group logo.

This journey has taught me communication skills, social media management and different ways to help the environment. I want to take this opportunity to talk about some accounts that I have interacted with who helped me along my journey.

@ecoplanetpedia is a group which posts environmental news and motivates me to post more. I have talked with them many times about issues and discussed environmental problems. @cleansomethingfornothing is an amazing account which reposts people’s litter picking using their hashtags. I have also worked closely with this account. Finally, @thebethechangecommunity who has been close to the 1 PIECE Army and are celebrating their one year of litter-picking. If you are interested to support these guys’ work, you might like to check out and follow their accounts.

One noticeable difference is that before this work seeing a piece of litter on the ground didn’t bother me. I would look at a bottle on the floor and not take notice of it and think that it’s just another piece of litter and it’s not my business. Now, I realise that each plastic bottle has a story behind it. One bottle can tell you what kind of person has dropped it, when they dropped it, and why they dropped it. That is why I can feel a pain inside when I see a bottle on the floor, and an even bigger one when I can’t pick it up.

When you think about it, there is so much you can do which will not add any time or effort to your day. If you go out on a walk, there is nothing stopping you from putting some gloves on and picking up as much litter as you can. There are no excuses. COVID-19 had to grind the Earth to a halt, and now it is the best time to reform the Earth into a state where future generations will not have to suffer from an irreversible hell. This is our home; this is everybody’s business.

Oliver Witts

Eco Activist, @uklitterpickers

Photos by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash, Oliver Witts

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