A Slough resident has been commended for the fantastic work she has done to help make the borough ‘a cleaner place for all who live here’.
Tirza Meinema decided enough was enough when she saw litter scattering her neighbour during her lockdown walks in March 2021.
Armed with a newly purchased litter pick, Tirza took to the streets where she met Bal Kalsi who shared her interest of making the area cleaner.
With a bit of encouragement, Tirza launched the Slough’s Anti-Litter Society Facebook group.
The first organised litter-picking event was held just weeks later in April 2021 when Tirza met Justyna Szablowska, who quickly became a ‘very active’ and ‘reliable’ volunteer.
As more events took place, the society began to snowball, earning a name for itself in the local area with passers-by of events providing encouragement and local businesses donating refreshments.
This year, together with 150 volunteers the society has held 13 litter picks totalling 285 bags of litter, which Slough Borough Council pick up in collaboration with the society.
“Because of these volunteers, the society is successful and growing,” Tirza said.
“The mission to make Slough a greener and cleaner place is one I definitely can not do by myself.”
The Facebook group is now 400 members strong.
Outside of litter picking, Tirza has also organised and hosted four fabric upcycling workshops, two second-hand markets, one flower seed bomb wrapping event and one repair café.
“I want to give everyone the opportunity to reduce landfill in one way or another,” Tirza said.
“More than 400 people turned out for the repair café, second-hand market and upcycling workshop.
“The success confirmed a need in Slough for a repair cafe and second-hand market.
“The trend to reuse, resell and buy second-hand is growing nationwide, and we see this locally.
“For us as volunteers, it is very encouraging that we get support in our efforts.
“We want to give everyone the opportunity to engage in making Slough a greener and cleaner town.”
The society has recently received National Lottery funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, further enabling future events and the ability for the society to hit the ground running in 2023.
Tirza has managed to juggle the society with her job in a law firm, putting ten hours a week into ensuring the society remains active.
Family and friends were originally a little sceptical about her passion. However, they soon came around, realising the potential of the society, with Tirza now receiving ‘lots of support from friends, family and colleagues’.
Tirza added: “My husband, Darren Monteiro, is a huge support, and I really could not do this without him.
“He is a hands-on on-the-day volunteer who supports in any way he can. Whether it is litter picking, buying refreshments for the volunteers or dressing up as a dinosaur for Halloween.”
Senior community project officer at Slough Borough Council, Esther Masters, said: “Tirza has organised several litter-picking events across Slough which have had a big impact in helping to make the borough a cleaner place.
“Tirza’s commitment to the fight against litter whilst at the same time bringing communities together has been commendable.
“On behalf of Slough Borough Council, I would like to thank Tirza for all the fantastic work that has been done by Slough Anti-Litter Society to help make the borough a cleaner place for all who live here.”
Looking to the future Tirza said: “In 2023 we want to develop some more workshops to promote anti-litter, for example, make your own beauty products.”
The next scheduled events are an anti-litter market and repair cafe due to take place on January 28, 2023.
With the help of volunteers, Tirza plans for this event to take place every other month.
Other projects currently in the works are a silent disco litter pick, a guided wildlife walk, upcycling and DIY workshops.
To get involved or find out more visit sloughantilitter.org.uk.