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Young boys litter-picking

Two young boys ask mum if they can pick up litter after the ‘scruffs’ who left it behind

  • Two brothers have been taking it upon themselves to collect the litter they find on their dog walking route
  • Mum Nichola supervises their litter picking, ensuring they don’t encounter anything ‘dangerous’ left on the ground
  • Now, she is calling upon the council and local business owners to make changes

A woman has described herself as a ‘proud mummy’ after her two young sons picked up the litter they found on their dog walk in Salford.

Nichola O’Neill shared a post to Instagram detailing her family dog walk, during which her two sons, aged three and five, asked if they could spend time litter picking on the way back.

two young boys and their mother litter picking
Nichola and her two sons picking up litter around Monton

In the post, the mother-of-two also expressed her frustration at the ‘scruffs’ who dropped it to begin with.

‘I’m sad it was dumped in the first place,’ she wrote.

Litter picking has become a regular occurrence for the boys around their home in Monton, Eccles.

“For my kids, it’s just a normal thing, to pick it up, and sometimes I’m a bit like, ‘no don’t touch that!’ because they just naturally want to pick it up and throw it away,” Nichola said.

She added: “If they see anyone dropping litter, they’re quite vocal.”

“They say, ‘Oi! Pick your litter up!’”

The primary school teacher expressed that she doesn’t think the knowledge of her two young sons cleaning up after people is enough to deter them from dropping litter in the first place.

“I think they’d just think, ‘oh well, someone else is going to pick it up.’

 “And it can be dangerous, you know if they’re picking up something that could have dog poo on it, or it could have needles or anything, glass, wire, it could be anything. It is dangerous.”

Nichola believes that to combat the litter problem she sees in her local area, litter picking to be taught on the national curriculum from a young age.

“If they do it at school, and they see their peers doing it, and their teachers are doing it, then maybe they’re more likely to do it themselves.”

Carrier bag of rubbish
The litter the boys collect is discarded in Nichola's own bins

Nichola acknowledged the work of the Monton Village Community Association, whose volunteers spend time litter-picking around the area, but insists that the council need to do more.

She suggested the council place bins in ‘strategic’ locations, such as where people walk, as well as emptying them more than once a week and fining those who drop litter.

She said: “There needs to be a punishment for dropping litter.”

Additionally, Nichola wants business owners to take responsibility for the litter they produce by introducing biodegradable food packaging and providing a place to dispose of waste.

Discarded food packaging from a takeaway in Monton

“Just as I’ve got older, we’ve realised, you know, the whole, what’s going on at the moment with COP26, it’s getting people to understand.

“We were using paper bags to get our fruit and veg, having a milk man with glass bottles, and going to the butchers and getting it wrapped in paper.

“I don’t understand the move away from that and then the move back to it. Why didn’t we just carry on like that?”

Nichola hopes that her sons will continue to care for their environment as they grow up, and plans to continue going litter picking with them on their dog walks.

She said: “I’d hope that they encourage their friends, I want them to be role models.”

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