Penny’s karma litter project grows arms and legs

The Love Lochaber beach cleaning team celebrate their first outing.

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Frustrated over the amount of plastic and glass left on Lochaber’s beaches, wild swimmer and yoga instructor Penny Clay decided to take action.

The Love Lochaber – Lift Some Litter (https://www.facebook.com/lovelochaberliftsomelitter) Facebook page was set up and Penny started asking the area’s wild swimmers to pick up litter at their favourite swimming spots.

‘I started Love Lochaber as a spring karma yoga project for my yoga students but it quickly grew arms and legs and took on a life of its own,’ she told the Lochaber Times.

‘Being part of the solution and empowering the community to take action and pick up litter has been hugely encouraging. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed by seeing the amount of plastic waste and pollution in the environment but I was really inspired by the positive response to the project.’

On Saturday May 8, the first organised litter pick was held at Seagull Island, Kinclochleven. This was was also supported by the Surfers Against Sewage Million Mile Beach Clean (https://beachcleans.org.uk/).

In one hour the 10 volunteers collected:
• 11 sacks of non-recyclable rubbish for landfill
• 19 random items including one metal sheet; two plastic drums from marine factory farms; a fridge door; 12 metres of plastic pipe from marine factory farms; a rucksack;
a boot and a sheet of unbroken glass.
• Six sacks of rubbish for recycling which was counted, sorted and recycled:
• 137 cans
• 50 glass bottles
• 166 single use plastic bottles

Penny continued: ‘Despite the typical Highland wind and rain, our ten volunteers took an hour out of their weekend to make a difference to their area. Just imagine if we could get more people cleaning the shoreline around Loch Leven. The benefits would be huge.’

Highland Council is also playing its part by agreeing to pick up the litterbags after the litter picks.

‘It is great to see the collaboration between the council and the residents,’ added Penny.

‘Even before lockdown, Loch Leven has always been a popular place for locals to practice wild swimming.’

‘However, as much joy as the sea brings, it is also increasingly under pressure from pollution and waste. The increasing number of visitors to the area has brought a new wave of rubbish to the shores of the loch.

‘The aim of the Love Lochaber campaign is to reconnect communities with the environment, whilst promoting the benefits of volunteering for mental health and physical wellbeing.’

The next litter pick has been organised for Sunday June 6 at 2pm at Seagull Island Layby, Kinlochleven.