Back in early 2020, we decided that we would LOVE to get some drain art installed to highlight the way that litter can be washed down our streets and end up going straight out to sea. Many road drains for rainwater end up discharging straight into our rivers, estuaries and seas. Most people don’t give road drains a second glance – they are ubiquitous and mundane. It’s not often we look at them and think about where they drain to, or whether they are filtered to stop rubbish flowing out into our precious and sensitive harbour ecosystems. We wanted to draw attention to them, to make people give them that second glance and think twice about dropping litter.
Later that summer, we ran a competition open to local schoolchildren to create some beautiful designs for us that we could use as a base for the drain murals. We had over 80 entries, all of them fabulous – it was a hard choice to pick the winners, but we chose around 15 beautiful and colourful designs that our artist could then paint onto our local streets. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with the council and then the Highways Agency, we finally received permission to go ahead and get painting in July 2021.
You can now see some of the designs in Emsworth, Hampshire, UK, and the turtle whirlpool at the Hilsea Lido. We have a wonderful local artist, Deborah Hochreutener, who has painted the actual artwork for us. We think she has done a brilliant job, and has really made the kids’ designs pop and come to life on our streets.
We really hope this project will bring a bit of fun and colour to our local area, as well as delivering an important message. It’s so important that we protect our delicate ecosystems, and these artworks will help drive that message home and we hope it will make a difference to the levels of littering locally. The message really applies not just to drains but to all litter on our streets. It’s so easy for it to blow around and end up in our countryside as well as our waters – fingers crossed these murals remind people to value and take care of our wonderful planet!
Making sure that you don’t drop litter is really important, and often it’s all linked to avoiding disposable food packaging if you can. You can find some top tips to cutting back on the amount of single-use plastic you use on our page here – implementing even a few of these ideas can make a real difference. It’s not about everyone reducing their waste and plastic consumption perfectly – millions of people making an effort and doing it imperfectly also helps a lot.