Man With Unyielding Depression Starts Picking Up Litter–And Helps Clear 13 Tons of Trash with Family and Strangers


Mike Scotland with some members of his group, Community Clean Up (via SWNS)

A 32-year-old man started picking up trash to improve his mental health and now his entire family spends quality time together cleaning up, while helping his community.

Mike Scotland began experiencing depression when he was in his early 20s. After struggling for some time, he found himself on the banks of the River Don in his hometown of Aberdeen, England, surrounded by trash and ready to take his life.

Fortunately, he changed his mind, but every time Mike passed by the river, a well-known local landfill, the trash reminded him of that dark day. So he decided to take matters into his own hands.

“I was in a really dark place,” Mike told SWNS News. “I was saved by a phone call that stopped me at that moment, but after that, every time I passed through that area, I felt like a dark shadow was chasing me.

“One day, I took three black bags, went down to the riverbank and started collecting trash.

“There was a person on a bike who stopped me and asked me what I was doing. I told her that she was picking up trash and she asked me if she wanted a hand.

“He parked his bike and this guy and I ended up spending the next few hours picking up trash together and having the most open and honest conversations about anything.

Before Mike returned home, he told the stranger that he was going to form a garbage collection group.

True to his word, the next day Mike started the Community Clean Up group and for the next few months they met weekly to beautify the land around the river. To date, they have collected almost 30,000 pounds of trash (13,500 kg) and removed a whopping 5,500 pounds of metal (2,500 kg) from the river bottom.

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Nikki Scotland with her two youngest children at a community cleanup (via SWNS)

“Four to six people showed up (for the first one), but we ended up cleaning over 300 kg (660 pounds) of trash in a couple of hours.

The following weekend, ten people showed up and doubled their haul. They soon saw otters swimming against the current for the first time in 40 years.

“We transformed that entire area as a community; “We gave it life again.”

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Mike is now a father of three and says the whole family now picks up trash regularly, especially his five-year-old son, Lucio, who picked up his first piece of trash when he was a child.

“I remember taking my son to the park when he was 18 months old and he saw an empty bottle. Even then, he was him, he picked it up and threw it in the trash.”

Mike Scotland and his trash-hating son Lucio (via SWNS)

“One of the things we used to do as father and son was go out dressed as Batman and ‘fight trash.’ It’s a great way to get him outside and teach him about the environment.

Last year, after Storm Babet, Mike remembers the “horrible” amount of trash that appeared in the water.

“I had never seen anything like it. My son couldn’t understand why people were passing by and he really wanted to help clean it up. He asked me if he could find people who could help us, so I went on Facebook and made a live video showing everyone the mess that was down there, and asked for help.”

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“In about 45 minutes, there were 25 people who came down to help.

Such was the disaster that the dynamic duo spent the next few weeks organizing an event and speaking to local media, until around 350 people showed up to finish the job: removing more than 400 bags of storm debris.

“It was really encouraging to see that there are a lot of people who want to do good.”

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Mike and his partner Nikki now have a database of over 100 litter-hating locals, which they loan out to groups interested in doing their own cleanups.

Mike says he couldn’t be more proud of his children for the work they have done and says they give him hope for the future.

“For me as a parent, it’s really encouraging to see them excited to make a difference. Now it is something natural for them.”

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“His mentality is focused on doing something good for the right reasons. They don’t do it for attention or praise, they do it because it’s the right thing to do.

“Over time, hopefully the number of people littering in the first place will reduce.

“It is a long goal. “I don’t know if I will achieve it in my lifetime, but I will certainly do my best.”

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