Paws on Plastic is a Facebook group that was founded by Marion Montgomery to encourage dog walkers to pick up a couple of pieces of litter on their routine walks and help fight the ongoing plastic waste issue.
Although community litter picking is not a new concept, Paws on Plastic has received a lot of media attention because it is helping to popularise this activity with dog walkers. The group has seen steady growth since it began in November 2018 as members rally together, share their success stories, make new friends and do their bit for the environment in the company of their four-legged friends.
We asked Marion to ‘Throw us a Bone’ and tell us more about what inspired her to start the group and what her hopes are for the the future of Paws on Plastic:
I started the campaign back in November 2018 when I came across a programme run by the British Council which was encouraging people to start a social action in their own local areas based on reducing plastic pollution.
My dogs have always picked up plastic bottles on walks, I think they enjoy the satisfying crunchy noise. Once they’ve picked one up, I’ve always felt obligated to put it in a bin. I guess that’s really the inspiration for the group. With plastic pollution so focused in the news at the moment, more and more people are asking themselves what they can do but the issue is so overwhelming it’s really hard to know where to start.
My dog, Murphy, a lab/collie cross, was my original inspiration as he always loved to pick up plastic bottles (he died in 2015) but Paddy (4 years, Fox red lab) and Ted (7 months fox red lab) also pick them up, although bottles are a rare find nowadays with 260 members picking up every day in Stonehaven. Our streets, parks, beach etc. are really very clean now!
Dog owners are creatures of habit, often walking the same routes, and I found myself passing the same pieces of litter on the ground every day. The strength of Paws on Plastic is its simplicity - we see the litter, we have a spare poo bag in our pocket and it just takes a second to pick up a couple of pieces. No extra time or effort is required as we’re out there anyway every day. Yet if we all do our own wee bit, with over 15,000 of us (on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter) that’s over 60,000 pieces a day, 22 million in a year, (based on the average of 2 daily walks) although, as you will see from posts on Facebook, most people pick up more as it is rather addictive!
We have had great support from many organisations including Keep Scotland Beautiful, Keep Britain Tidy and Surfers against Sewage who have helped promote our group. It is great to make contact with the many fantastic groups who share the same aims of protecting wildlife and our precious environment.
With approximately 9 million dogs in the UK, imagine the impact if we all simply picked up a couple of pieces of litter on every walk. My hopes for Paws on Plastic are that it continues to grow and becomes just a part of a normal, everyday dog walk.
- With special thanks to Marion Montgomery from Paws on Plastic for the additional information and images! -
Paws on Plastic inspired us to start being more mindful of the rubbish that we see while we’re walking Elsa and Buffy, and how picking up just a few pieces every day could really make a difference to the environment.
I actually enjoy taking my grabber along on our walks and find that removing unsightly rubbish is tremendously satisfying! I’m pleased to report that some days we hardly see any rubbish at all, but unfortunately there are other times where the amount of waste is overwhelming. (Don’t even get me started on the people who bag up dog poo and then leave it at the side of a path, in a bush or even hanging halfway up a tree!) Whenever I lose my faith in the human race, I just remind myself that I’m doing this for the good of the ecosystem and turn to Paws on Plastic for solace and motivation.
Join the Paws on Plastic Facebook group | https://www.facebook.com/groups/344123186321129/
Twitter | https://twitter.com/pawsonplastic
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/pawsonplastic/