Four women holding bin bags

We recently funded the new volunteer group South London Litter Action (SOLLA), which brings together people living south of the river who want to see their London neighbourhoods cleaner.

Published: 02/07/2021

With over 85 members, SOLLA litter pick every Saturday morning in and around Kennington Community Cricket Ground. In their first six weeks, SOLLA picked up the equivalent of 2,500 cans in litter.

"This is where it all began for me, litter picking in Bournemouth Christmas 2020."

Harriet Freeman, who founded SOLLA, successfully applied for the Peabody Community Leaders' Fund, which offers grants of up to £500 to support community projects. Using the grant, Harriet has put together free, eco-made litter picking kits for all new members.

We asked Harriet what inspired her to start SOLLA: "I had just submitted a MSc dissertation on the global structures of waste management and started to notice litter everywhere. I’d go out for hours most days, around work, and pick what I could. But the enormity of the issue became overwhelming and often I’d return home tear-stained and downtrodden. I needed a team. I needed structure. And I needed a bit of fun.

I reached out to environmental and volunteering groups I was already part of in the local area (Friends of the Earth, Hands on London) and GoodGym. From here, I grew the confidence to independently start a litter action group: SOLLA. A core ingredient to the success of our budding team is diversity - just as the success of a budding garden is biodiversity."

For one in three members, being part of SOLLA is their first-time litter picking.

Ben said: "Litter is a very clear reflection of our values and culture as well as failures in our infrastructure. If you can solve litter then you have solved some much bigger problems upstream of it. I think one of the first and most important contributions anyone can make is to get involved in a community group like SOLLA. Groups like these build networks of like-minded people. They send the very visible, positive signal that can change community behaviour and this change can then scale."

Truc said: "I love SOLLA’s great initiative to clean up the neighbourhoods and give back the clean spaces for everyone to enjoy. I feel great when my small actions can contribute to better my community."

Verity added: "I'm involved in SOLLA to do what I can for the environment and people who live locally. Seeing us litter picking sends out a strong message that this is an area people love and care for. I can't change the world but I can change my area and SOLLA has given me the opportunity to do this."

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