Like anyone, Ash Denham can be infuriated by litter. It blights the landscape, and even as there appears a move towards more enlightened times, user behaviours and a throw away culture are hard to combat.
But unlike others, she has to do something about it. She is MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, after all, with a responsibilty to a constituency that covers a diverse area of the capital.
It includes suburban residential areas, but and also the sprawling beachfronted community of Portobello, and surrounding coast. And she says the people she represents see and feel the issue keenly.
“The impact of litter, plastic and pollution on the local communities is a common, pressing concern for all my constituents,” she says, “Large amounts of litter and flytipping occur within inland areas, such as Gilmerton, Craigmillar.
“Meanwhile the beaches in the constituency also suffer from large amounts of rubbish being washed onto the shore It has become increasingly clear this is not an isolated problem, and there is a significant need for a coordinated effort to combat the amounts of rubbish being littered throughout the area.”
She goes on: “It is an issue that is repeatedly raised with me, and our recent efforts and future planning reflects my commitment to take this problem seriously and make substantive efforts to clean up the constituency.”
And she’s prepared to get her hands dirty for the cause. Last week, she joined a litter clean up with Brunstane Primary School to launch Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Clean Up Scotland Spring Clean 2018 initiative.
She said: “It really represents the start of a renewed to coordinate with environmental organisations and community groups to raise awareness, organise further clean ups and beach cleans over the summer recess period.
“Also, I recognises that these efforts should fit into wider campaigns to tackle the impact plastic pollution that afflicts communities across Scotland.”
Her involvement partially reflects her growing concern a following an increased number of complaints from local peoples about the amount of litter and fly tipping going on, and said she was delighted that Brunstane students were so engaged with environmental issues and that the school recognises that teaching environmental awareness at this stage is a crucial part of changing attitudes to littering.
The school has focused on the environmental impact of litter and rubbish on the world’s ecosystems and their own student Eco Warriors organise clean ups in school and raise awareness of the impact of dropping litter on the local environment.
Thursday’s clean up was part of efforts by the school to introduce an awareness in the students of their responsibilities regarding litter and encourage an environmentally friendly culture.
“I am excited to be working with Brunstane Primary pupils and encourage all of the community to come out and help us make our community clean and litter free,” she said.
The MSP has submitted a motion congratulating the students, and encouraging other MSPs and people across Scotland to contribute to keep the country and streets litter free and has raised the issue with rubbish bins and litter with the council on behalf of constituents.
She also hopes to encourage local schools to become Plastic Free, with the support of environmental organisations.
She is trying to lead the way, too, by Ash taking part in Friends of the Earth’s #PlasticFreeFriday – a campaign to end the use of single use plastic on Fridays, believing a small change that can make a large difference.
She has moved a motion in support of Friend’s of the Earth’s campaign and said collaborations are already underway with environmental groups in the constituency, such as planting trees in Little France Park with Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust.
She said: “Everyone deserves to live in a neighbourhood they can take pride in. One step to any of this is to ensure each of us are leading when it comes to keeping our communities free of litter.”
This article originally appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News