In many urban areas, fly-tipping and littering are out of hand. A decade of austerity has led to cuts in bin collections and street cleansing but changes in consumption habits are also to blame.
In my neighbourhood, everywhere is blighted by rubbish and fly tipping, which are among the most complained-about issues on social media. I frequently pick up litter with my children but this often leaves me feeling furious or – on bad days – hopeless and apathetic. It’s like swimming against the tide.
Over lockdown, I’ve noticed an increase in community litter picking across Greater Manchester. Councils are providing litter picking equipment and bags to anyone who wants them and online litter picking groups are proliferating. Some areas are particularly active, with residents adopting streets to keep clean.
In 2021, I used a micro-commission from Open Eye Gallery to connect with online litter picking communities across Greater Manchester. I invited members to send photographs of items found during their picks and to share their thoughts about this environmental crisis and their motivations for taking action. More than 30 people contributed, sending 450 images.
I also attended litter picks across the city, making portraits of litter pickers which were then worked into collages, along with items I collected from the streets. Picking up the Pieces can be downloaded here.