A brand new community litter picking station has been installed in an Aberdeenshire town.
Located in Banchory and aptly named the “Pick and Collect” station, it is the very first permanent litter picking resource created by local environmental group Community CleanUP.
The box contains all the equipment needed for two adults and two children to go out collecting litter, and it is hoped these new free resources will encourage communities to look after their green spaces.
The Pick and Collect station is located in the King George V Park and is set to be the first of many litter picking stations to be installed across Aberdeen city and shire.
“I am so proud to see this all come together,” said Mike Scotland, the Community CleanUP founder.
“I was thinking back to when I started this group, which was 462 days ago according to my Facebook page, and I was just picking up litter by myself and trying to encourage others to maybe do the same.
“And now here we are, installing the first official community litter picking box.
“This is just one little seed, it’s going to grow and grow.”
The Community CleanUP project has already grown more than Mike had dared to dream.
Back in 2019 when he was struggling with his mental health, Mike found himself going out on daily walks alone to try and clear his head.
“I used to always walk down at the river at Muggiemoss Road,” he said. “And one day I just got fed up of seeing that place a mess.
“I started picking up litter and a guy got off his bicycle and asked what I was doing.
“We got talking and I said I was going to start a litter picking group. He gave me a glove to protect my hand, wished me ‘good luck’ and cycled away.
“That night I set up the Community CleanUP page and I just can’t believe what’s been happening since.”
The man behind the initiative
At 29 years old with a full-time job and two young children, Mike doesn’t strike you as someone who might set up a group to collect junk off the ground.
But his page has collected more than 5,000 members who now form a community motivated to make the world around them a better place.
“My energy never drops,” Mike said. “I’m doing this for my kids and for the environment.
— Community CleanUP (@CommunityClean6) May 30, 2020
“A couple of weeks ago I found a packet of crisps from the 1968 Mexico Olympics, and I’ve picked up litter with dates from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000.
“I don’t want my son to be seeing crisp packets on the floor from the 2020s.”
The riverside down at Muggiemoss where Mike says he spent many of his “deepest and darkest moments” has been transformed thanks to his hard work and the spirit of the community who got behind his project.
Now Mike is keen to see that motivation in communities across Aberdeen.
Thanks to a donation from his former employer, Community CleanUP have enough equipment to set up 55 Pick and Collect stations.
He is now appealing for people to get in touch if they wish to see a litter picking box installed in their neighbourhood.
“We’re still actively looking for locations for the new boxes and for people who are up for the challenge of helping us install them,” Mike said.
“Banchory have set the bar high.”
Local Banchory residents Linda MacPhee and Claire Macdonald were instrumental in arranging the installation of their village’s Pick and Collect box, deciding where it would be located and spreading the word locally.
“The message isn’t about pointing fingers and telling people ‘don’t do this’ or ‘stop doing that’,” said Linda, who is retired.
“It’s not about blame, it’s about looking at what we can do together to change things.
“What Mike has done in such a short time has been nothing short of phenomenal.
“Eventually he wants to take this movement across the whole of Scotland and even the UK, and I’ve no doubt he will.”