But I would walk 500 miles……………

Some of you reading this will have walked many miles in your litter-picking activities over the years. But have you ever tried to work out how many miles you have actually walked while litter-picking ? Have a quick guess now before you read on …… Is it 20 miles, 50 miles, 500 even for those of you who have done a lot of litter-picking ?

Well, whatever your answer, I suspect that few of you can match the achievement of Alex Addison and Margaret Strike from Swindon. Alex and Margaret are in their 70s and live in the Lawn area of Swindon. You may think that “Lawn” sounds a nice, green, spotless area in which to live but I can assure you that, like most other areas of the country, it does have its litter problem.

So Alex and Margaret have spent the last 14 years trying to keep the litter at bay. They do a 2-mile litter-pick every day of the year and have been amazed at what they have picked up. They have collected underpants, handbags, mobile phones, shoes and socks as well as the usual helping of cans, bottles and drugs litter – not to mention the “bags of dogs’ whoopsies” as Margaret calls them. They regularly fill four plastic carrier bags a day.

What is more, they have been able to return valuable items that have been dropped by their owners. Many a resident has woken up in the morning cursing themselves for losing their car keys or wallet, only to retrieve them later from Alex and Margaret.

Alex and Margaret initially started doing this for health reasons – Alex had had a heart triple-bypass and was advised to get more exercise. Margaret had problems with her legs and was told that walking would help. And Swindon Borough Council have not only equipped them with litter-picking sticks but have also awarded them Pride of Swindon certificates for their efforts.

Interestingly, they are sometimes accused of doing the Council’s job. Margaret is clear about this, though : “The Council can only do so much”, she says.

And now, the answer to that question. You may have worked it out already – Alex and Margaret calculate that they have each walked more than 10,000 miles in the 14 years that they have been doing this. Can anyone match that ? And perhaps we should add another phrase to our everyday vocabulary – not just air miles or food miles, but litter miles too.

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