Hi Elizabeth, could you please introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Elizabeth Gadsdon and I am 9. I live in the Wirral with my Mum, Dad and Banjo my Labrador! I go to Heswall Primary School.
You became a little collector when you were only 6 years old. Surely, this is not something most 6 years olds think about. Was there an event which spurred your interest in environmental matters?
When I was tiny, I always loved walks in the woods and looking for bugs. I cared about nature and wanted to keep it all safe. I started picking up the tiny bits of litter outside my house to try and make sure every little animal living by my home didn’t have to live around human litter. Then, when I was six, I saw a man throw rubbish out of his car window into the middle of the road. I couldn’t understand why he had done it. I thought adults were meant to set the right example.
That was the day when I realised I had to do more.
We all know this exhilarating feeling, when something new comes up. We are thrilled and determined, but the excitement often fades away. What keeps you motivated?
All I really wanted to do was to show people that anyone can make a difference. Some amazing people who follow my Facebook page have been inspired to pick up litter, avoid using single use plastic or choose to use a refillable water bottle. That is what inspires me. I love seeing other people making a difference too.
How often do you go out to pick rubbish? Do you mostly stick to the area you live in, Wirral, or do you sometimes travel farther?
Because I am at Junior School I save big litter picks for the weekends and these are usually all in the Wirral. In the week I will always fill a dog poo bag with litter or ocean plastic when we take Banjo out for one of his daily walks. I have been to meet other Keep Britain Tidy litter heroes, away from the Wirral, to help at their big litter picks. It’s always fun to work with other people.
Your energy and dedication is obviously contagious. Children are joining you in your action under name “The Little Collector Crew”, which is truly awesome. How did you manage to form such a community of litter pickers? Do you think your peers are easier to motivate than adults?
My Little Collector Crew is made up of children and their families from all over Wirral. Many of them contacted my Facebook page and asked to join. Very few of us were friends before. So I have met a lot of new people and we all meet up once a month to do a Crew litter pick together. My crew members choose an area they care about which they would like to clean and we arrange for the crew to meet there. We can’t meet up at the moment because of the corona virus but I know lots of them are picking up litter, safely, around their homes.
I also found out you are very keen on refraining from single-use plastic. How do you try to be “zero-waste in your daily life? Do you have any tips for us?
When I was seven I started learning about the effects of plastic on our planet. Nowadays I avoid single use plastic all the time. When I am at school my lunch box in now complete plastic free too.
One of the things I would like to ask people is, when you go to the supermarket to do your weekly shop take a proper look at your trolley. How much of your food is covered in plastic? Can you make any changes or swaps? Just one change can make such a difference. I would love people to realise that plastic never goes away and loads of it cannot be recycled over and over again.
How did your passion for ecologically conscious life influenced your family?
Oh my word! Totally! My Mum and Dad are lovely and have completely changed the way we live. They are always looking for plastic free and environmentally friendly alternatives to the things we use. My thoughts have definitely changed them. Dad now grows lots of our vegetables, salads and berries in planters in our garden and he got an allotment, all because he couldn’t find me a cucumber not wrapped in plastic! Our bathroom and kitchen are full of refillable things. We hardly ever need to put general waste bin out for collection anymore and that’s feels amazing.
On your Facebook page you are often photographed with your dog, Banjo. Is Banjo your loyal companion during litter picking?
Banjo is my best friend. He is only 2 but he is so gentle and is perfect when we go out litter picking. He never pulls on his lead when we are litter picking along the pavement and in big open spaces he stays close and never goes out of sight.
Our brand, TiksPac, focuses on production of 100% biodegradable bags for dog waste. How often do you come across dog poo during litter picking? Do you think this is also an issue for the environment?
I quite often come across dog poo when I’m out and about. What I find most puzzling is when people bag it but then don’t put the bag in a bin and just leave it lying around.
Life on lockdown has some very specific features in terms of protective equipment we need to wear. Have you come across a new type of rubbish these days? What would you advise to our readers?
I haven’t been out much since lockdown but I have noticed more gloves and masks and many people who follow my page have contacted me to say they have noticed these things too.
I would say that, like any rubbish, PPE should be disposed of responsibly. Not only does it damage our environment but it could possibly spread the virus too.
How do you enjoy being schooled at home?
I have really enjoyed being schooled at home but I miss my school friends and teachers very much, and I can’t wait to go back and see them all.
I noticed on your blog, that gardening enticed you. Why? Do you think that there is a connection with an “eco-conscious lifestyle”?
I do like being outside anyway and I love nature. We try to grow some of our own food, particularly stuff that normally comes in plastic at the shops, like cucumbers.
You won several awards for your plausible contribution to society, UK’s 970th Point of Light Award, Echo Environment Award 2019 or Network Awards 2019 just to name a few. Besides that, you appeared on TV to share your inspiring story several times. Which achievement are you most proud of and why?
The awards are lovely and because of them I have met some amazing people who think like me, but I am most proud of my crew, and all the wonderful people who support me and care about our planet like I do, and work so hard to keep it beautiful.
What is your role as an ambassador of Wirral Council? How is council helping you in your environmental activities?
The council have helped by providing some extra equipment for my litter picks and we contact them to arrange to have the rubbish bags we fill collected. I love where I live and want everyone to feel the same.
What are your plans with the The Little Collector blog? Do you have any specific goal you would like to reach?
I just want to carry on caring and looking after our planet, and to help and encourage other people to do the same.
Thank you for the interview Elizabeth, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I would like to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years.
I just want people to know that lots of little actions really add up and that together we can make a difference.
Thank you Elizabeth, it was a pleasure getting know you and your initiatives better. We admire your contribution to war on litter and hope, that your enthusiasm will inspire as many citizens as possible.
You can follow Elizabeth’s journey here:
Photo source: TLCwirral Faceboook page