Downpatrick woman Maya Goodfellow does not go for her daily stint of walking exercise alone… she brings her litter picker with her for company.
And today, Maya reports, if the litter picker had ears they would be well covered! “I was raging,” she said,”As I had just cleared up a stretch at the back of Gallaun when, just a day after, I noticed someone had thrown a plastic bag with dog poo into a bush… it was just hanging there for the world to see. I had just cleared the bush of these bags.
“This type of behaviour by dog owners beggars belief. I had spent six hours yesterday tidying up and it just seems to have not been appreciated by someone.
“Once we went into lockdown with a limited amount of exercise each day, I decided to adopt a project… to clean the roads around my home in Gallen, and up the Vianstown Road. It is quite a giant task as since the lockdown, the rubbish has started to gather. I know the Council road sweeper only goes so far up the Vianstown Road, but it would be nice for him to go on further up if he could and clear the whole stretch coming into Downpatrick from that end of the town.
“When the lockdown started I just didn’t want to walk. I needed a purpose for going out… and I found one, the growing piles of litter. I have been part of the ‘Adopt a Spot’ run by Keeping Northern Ireland Beautiful and have worked at this for a while. But it took on a new meaning with the lockdown.
“When families with their children go out for a walk they do not want to navigate round dog poo, broken glass and litter. The state of the environment is just not safe or healthy. So I decided to clean it up if I could.
“So far, I’ve collected a lot of bags of rubbish. It can be quite dirty work so I use protective clothing such as two pair of gloves. A couple of times my boots have got messed up with dog poo and it’s pretty disgusting having to clean them boots after a walk and a litter picking session. How would these dog owners like it if I walked into their living rooms with my dirty boots? People just need to learn to pick up their dog poo and take it home and bin it.
“We do need a dog poo bin at the top of the Vianstown Road. It might help matters if the Council could put one there. But I suppose with the Covid-19 epidemic that sort of work will be halted for a few months at least. “
And Maya expressed her concerns for the welfare of some young people. She explained that there were youths drinking in the area and there was an increase in the amount of empty bottles and beer cans lying around.
“These youngsters need to be social distancing not sitting drinking in groups. They may not catch Covid-19 or suffer from it but their parent and grand-parents just might if they bring it back home to them.
“There are some lovely areas in this neighbourhood. We even have a bit of woodland and there are daffodils growing. It is lovely. But the litter blights it.
“Perhaps if parents want to take their youngsters out for a walk some day, if they kitted up with gloves etc they could collect a bit of rubbish en route on their walk and maybe fill a bin liner. It would be a good bit of environmental education for them.
“I know the Council have re-deployed their wardens but we need people now to step up to the plate and behave responsibly with their dogs and keep the area clean and safe for all who walk, play and live there.”