“We live in a beautiful part of the country and we should respect it,” said Mandy, stroking Twiggy, her beloved rescue dog.
Explaining that Litter Ladies came from a spur of the moment decision to host a dinner party with a difference, she said: “I invited my friends to dinner but told them to bring a bag and to wear old clothes, as we would be doing something first. One of them guessed at mud sliding, but in fact we litter-picked Fishbourne Creek. It was such fun. Now there are 33 of us in the group. We pick a date, a place and those who can just turn up. It is very informal, but lovely; it gets us out, we have a giggle, get fit and give something back. And of course Twiggy is our mascot!”
Now with its own facebook group, Mandy, a former Observer Community Award-winner, says the social side of the group has really escalated.
“We take it in turns to host the ‘after-pick’ party,” she laughed, adding: “Whoever chooses the place to pick usually ropes their other half in to make sausage baps and pour the wine on our return.”
Also presiding over the group Plastic Free Chichester, single use plastic is something that Mandy has especially strong feelings about. So much so, she has set up a business at her Fishbourne home to address the problem.
“I run Message On A Bottle and produce everlasting water bottles, mugs, aluminium bottles and thermos mugs. All the designs are by my very talented sister Nicky Linzey Design and I can add logos, names – whatever. I have recently filled orders for West Sussex County Council and West Wittering Beach” she said proudly.
“You can take your refillable bottle everywhere, even to the airport. Take it through customs empty and then use the Refill station airside. I have also registered my house as a Refill station for walkers and cyclists who need to top-up their refillable water bottles. It’s really easy to put yourself on the map,” she urged.
Fervently hoping that people will ditch plastic in favour of more ecologically-sound options, Mandy credits Sir David Attenborough with prodding people’s consciences.
“I think the most recent Blue Planet programme really made us think. Litter picking is a great thing to do, but we really need to stop creating rubbish in the first place.”
Recently adding personalised linen tote bags to her output, Mandy is not only serious about what she does, but she loves it, too.
“It gives me such a buzz!” she declared. “Single use plastic is terrible for the environment and for our wildlife, so think before you drink! “It’s all about education. I wouldn’t have dared throw even an apple core when I was a child, but children today – especially secondary school pupils – need reminding of the Litter Ladies motto: #dontbeatosser”
More info: Litter Ladies: www.facebook.com/groups/ 187239432084999/?fref=nf
Plastic Free Chichester: www.facebook.com/groups/218677575391541
Message on a Bottle: www.message-on-a-bottle.co.uk Refill UK: www.refill.org.uk