Over the last three months, I have been trying to earn my Duke of Edinburgh (DofE’s)’s Bronze Award. To do this, I have to demonstrate success in a skill, a sport and a volunteering programme. I am 15 years old and live in Winchester.

For my volunteering, my dad and I go around the Winchester roads, by car, collecting the litter in countryside lay-bys. We have done eight out of twelve sessions so far and collect roughly two full bin bags each time. At first, I thought I was doing this simply to earn my DofE’s certification but I soon realised how rewarding it can be to help the environment, and how important it is to look after it.

To have litter strewn across roads, chucked into farming fields, hedges and trees is not something anyone wants to see. So why do people do it?

To have crisp packets, beer cans, fast-food waste and nappies lying in a lay-by, especially when there is a bin available, is not something anyone wants to see. So why do people do it?

Our aim is not only to pick up after people leaving rubbish but also to show everyone how nice the roads can be without litter on their verges, and how nice hedges and paths can be without plastic covering their leaves.

I have also realised how easy it is to take a bag whilst on a walk with the dog, a cycle ride, or a run and to pick up litter along the way. See a picture of my dog above! I now also know it is a shame to be blissfully unaware of your surroundings, particularly when they are so beautiful, and that it’s actually easy to give time and energy to look after them. If everybody was able to fill a small bag with litter a day, our paths and roads would look lovely and tidy again. And a clean, well-kept place becomes more appealing and enjoyable to live and work in – both for humans and wildlife!

Of course, I really wish people would stop creating litter in the first place! But, for now, I am glad that I chose litter-picking as my volunteering programme for my DofE Bronze Award. I feel that I have helped our community and countryside, if only in a small way.

For my skill, I have been helping manage this website. I have uploaded lots of stories of amazing people who have dedicated their time to help our community. Please do have a look at the News section! I think it says so much about the people that are donating their time to cleaning our environment and gives lots of ideas for what we can all do, too!

In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. I am grateful to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for the opportunity to get involved in my lovely community and hope I might one day have a chance to document your efforts to clean up our wonderful countryside on this website!