Melissa Forster and Kristina Pruett
Nominated for Environment champion award
Dismayed by the litter in their local environment, at the end of 2020, Melissa Forster and Kristina Pruett pledged to pick up litter every day in 2021. Their pledge became known as The Litter Pick Challenge and what originally started as a personal challenge to improve their local community, through their passion and dedication, developed into a community action organisation with links to other areas of Wales, the UK and abroad.
As well as leading litter picks in their community, they have cleared fly tips and removed waste and debris from the River Taff - a painful reminder of the devastating floods of 2020.
They attempt to recycle as much as they can by upcycling materials, creating artwork or collaborating with local metal recycling centres. They have organised awareness campaigns, including a postcard designed using litter picked materials to canvas businesses in RCT about issues surrounding single-use plastics. They have worked with Royal Mail to develop strategies to reduce the number of discarded elastic bands in the environment and managed large-scale community events as part of The Great Big Green Week and COP26.
Primarily based in Pontypridd, during the challenge they have taken their environmental action further afield in Wales and England. During 2021 they removed over 1,000 bags of rubbish from the environment.
However, where they go, their litter picker goes too, and despite the initial challenge being over, they continue working towards their goal of improving the environment and engaging the community.