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Alexandra Palace park
Photograph: Eagle_Watch/

Eight double-deckers’ worth of rubbish was dumped in Alexandra Park last year

By Jess Phillips

London is renowned for its green spaces. It’s the largest urban forest in the world, we’ll have you know. We’re lucky to have the likes of Abney Park Cemetery, the Hill Garden and Isabella Plantation all in one city, but some of us know how to ruin a good thing. 

Last year, 102 tonnes of waste was collected from Alexandra Park (the magnificent greenery that surrounds north London’s fave event space Ally Pally). That’s the equivalent of eight double-decker buses. Or 80 million jelly beans, 1.5m tennis balls, 10,000 dachshunds, 2,000 toilets, 200 polar bears or one blue whale.

The park covers 196 acres and is enjoyed by millions of visitors every year. How many people clean up the mess? Very good question. Glad you asked. The answer is five. Staff and a handful of local volunteers clear everything from Pringles cans to used mattresses. London, why?

The park has been open to the public since 1863 and hosts everything from fireworks displays and film screenings to concerts and circus tutorials. In recent years, though, maintaining the area of natural beauty has become a struggle.

The London borough of Haringey has grappled with the idea of introducing parking charges to cover clean-up costs. Most recently, signs reading ‘We’re over 150 years old. We shouldn’t have to bend down to pick up your rubbish’ have popped up across the park.

Nobody wants to part with their cash – have you seen the price of Kaleidoscope tickets? – or be mercilessly told off by Grandmother Willow. So, pick up your rubbish after your picnic, okay?

This map shows which Londoners are the most rubbish at recycling.

Here’s how to go zero-waste in London. 


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