LAGER Can Cleans Up 274 Tonnes of Rubbish in 2021

Items found during the year include guns, a canoe and a pet rabbit

Shocked LAGER Canners find a canoe and a rabbitShocked LAGER Canners find a canoe and a rabbit

Ealing's litter action group, LAGER Can - the Litter Action Group for Ealing Residents, collected a grand total of 274 tonnes of rubbish in 2021.

Volunteers filled 24,561 sacks with litter and recyclables from the borough's streets and open spaces. They recovered enough fly-tipped junk to fill the equivalent of another 11,049 sacks, plus 808 bags of leaves.

Surprise finds included two guns in a rucksack in Northolt's Islip Manor Meadows, several motorbikes by Hanwell's Wharncliffe Viaduct, a canoe in woods on Horsenden Hill, a pallet-load of honey on Bridge Road in Southall and a live pet rabbit near North Hyde Bridge in Southall.

Bottles and cans made up much of the staggering litter haul. LAGER Can's Cathy Swift says a deposit return scheme would go a long way to solving the problem.

"Like many members, I'm dismayed by the delays to the introduction of the national deposit return scheme. Up to half the rubbish we pick up could be reused or recycled. If a deposit were paid on bottles and cans, I believe this type of litter would almost disappear overnight.

"One of our frustrations is that it's not easier to recycle the bottles and cans we collect on our litter picks, but we continue to look for solutions. We also need more bins."

Lager Can volunteers with just some of the rubbish collected
Lager Can volunteers with just some of the rubbish collected in 2021

In 2021 members of LAGER Can - the Litter Action Group for Ealing Residents - spent a total of 17,796 hours litter picking, attending some of the 262 group events or working alone. More than 60 Duke of Edinburgh Award candidates were supervised. The year also saw the group honoured with a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Cathy Swift and Keith Freegard at Westminster Abbey
Cathy Swift and Keith Freegard collect LAGER Can's award at a ceremony in Westminster

Cathy says membership rocketed during the pandemic, "In June 2020 we ran a series of events to remove rubbish from Warren Farm in Norwood Green. The council disposed of the hundreds of bags we filled. They also cleared up a vast amount of fly-tipping and a large number of wheelie bins that had been stored there, and set fire to.

"The story of the transformation encouraged others to ask LAGER Can for help. An example was the Dog Rose Ramble in Northolt, where we cleared many tonnes of rubbish in a series of group events.

Cleaning up the Dog Rose Ramble
Cleaning up the Dog Rose Ramble

"Membership went from 375 in June 2020 to nearly 1,800 today. By being a strong visible presence around the borough with our trademark blue vests and rubbish bags, we've changed litter picking from a niche activity to the mainstream. Much of our expansion is down to our fantastic network of local representatives showing great leadership in their areas. Many friendships have been made and it's helped a lot of people to cope with the pandemic."

Gracie and the team in Northolt
Gracie and the team in Northolt

Fly-tipping has a range of causes, says Cathy, "Some people don’t realise that leaving bags of rubbish next to bins, and leaving unwanted items on the pavement outside their properties, are examples of fly-tipping.

"Stowing a week’s worth of rubbish in a small property can be challenging. People may object to the inconvenience of taking unwanted stuff to the tip or having to pay for a bulk waste collection. The litterers and fly-tippers that upset me the most are those who have no excuse. They just don’t care."

For more information about LAGER Can, visit

Mark Percy

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January 5, 2022