Litter collector Cecilia James has completed her marathon clear-up of roadsides between Voe and Lerwick – filling more than 250 bags.
She started in Voe on 12th September and worked her way towards Lerwick clearing all the roadsides, ditches and adjoining parks along the way. She reached the “Welcome to Lerwick” sign on Tuesday.
It is and 18-mile stretch of road but it is estimated the ground covered by Cecilia is well over 100 miles. She collected 254 bags of litter and many other larger pieces of bruck.
Her inspiration came from a letter in The Shetland Times from Robert Gibson, expressing his disappointment at the amount of litter he saw everywhere as he and his partner cycled through Shetland last summer and asking if Shetland cared.
Cecilia wrote to him last week telling him about what she had been doing and how he had prompted her into action. On receiving her letter, Robert called to congratulate her and inform her that he now knows people do care about the environment.
Cecilia had to deal with some difficult weather and other challenges. Having filled her own and her neighbours’ shed before reaching halfway, she needed somewhere to store all the bruck. Businesses were contacted and Streamline Shipping loaned her a 20-foot container, which Garriock Bros transported for her.
The SIC roads deparment supplied signs to alert drivers every time Cecilia was out and Shetland Amenity Trust provided bags, transported the collected bruck from the full sheds to the container and promoted her project on its Dunna Chuck Bruck Facebook page.
Cecilia said: “The support received has been very heartening, not just from the businesses but also from the public. Many passers-by have tooted and waved and some have even come up to shake my hand and thank me.
“Since I started the project, many people have commented that they now notice just how much roadside litter there is and that it is great someone is highlighting the problem and doing something about it.
“The support on the Facebook page has also been phenomenal. This has all turned what could have been a somewhat lonely exercise, into something which has ‘inspired’ me to see it through to the end and made it fun and enjoyable.”
Cecilia hopes to work with the amenity trust to sort the bruck to establish what rubbish is being discarded at the roadsides. The data gathered will help the trust, and other local organisations try to tackle the issue.
Environmental improvement officer Sita Goudie said: “Cecilia is an inspirational individual and what she has done, especially at this time of year, is incredible. One of her original aims was to raise awareness of roadside litter, which she has certainly done, we now need to build on Cecilia’s efforts and try to reduce the level of littering in the isles.
“By storing the bruck, Cecilia has given us a great opportunity to analyse the types of litter gathering at our roadsides and where it could be coming from. We hope to start sorting the bruck in a couple of weeks.”