The Vintage Litter Museum in Woodbridge, Suffolk, will open to the public on 28 October.
The brainchild of Jason Alexander, founder of Rubbish Walks and winner of the 2023 Green Hero award from Suffolk – Creating The Greenest County, the museum aims to become the UK’s premier creative hub and learning space for all things relating to litter and its effect on the environment.
Located on Jetty Lane in Woodbridge, the Vintage Litter Museum aims to answer five fundamental questions: What is litter? Why do people litter? Where does it go when dropped or put in a bin? Who is responsible for dropping it and for picking it up? How can we stop it happening?
Jason Alexander, founder of the museum, says that the idea first came to him in 2014: “I set myself a challenge to witness and photograph 100 sunrises in a year. I quickly discovered you have to get up for a lot more than 100 sunrises in the UK to see the sun.
"The idea was to find beautiful locations to watch the sunrise, take a photo to share and then put all the technology away and just be in the moment. I shared posts demonstrating how we can balance being in the moment with sharing the moment.
“But as I was setting up the shots, I found myself moving pieces of litter out of the way to make the scene look as beautiful as possible – I was brought up to always put your rubbish in the bin so rather than just leaving it there I would take it to the nearest bin or home to recycle.
"Litter picking, beach cleaning and finding out more about the issue soon became an integral part of my routine.
“Over the past 10 years I’ve completed thousands of litter picks and beach cleans picking up millions of pieces of litter, and when you are out as often as I am you inevitably find some unusual things. Most people would throw them away but for some reason I decided to keep some of the more interesting finds.
“I used my time at home during the pandemic to catalogue and photograph each item and created a ‘virtual museum’ on the Rubbish Walks website. Fast forward to today and the collection has grown to over 450 pieces, all of which have genuinely been found littering the environment during litter picks and beach cleans around Suffolk,” he says.
He says that from the moment the virtual museum went live that there was an appetite for it, and that it’s been a brilliant tool to engage with audiences of all ages from schools, groups and other community organisations.
“Finding a home for the museum at Jetty Lane in Woodbridge has enabled us to take our plans to the next level. We’ve got some brilliant clubs, workshops and ongoing fun activities planned and we can’t wait to open the doors to visitors.”
Alexander reveals that highlights of the collection include: “A sealed test tube containing an original cat gut suture kit used for intestinal operations. We found an almost identical item in a Scottish museum dating it to 1920 making it over 100 years old. The earliest plastic piece is a small plastic bottle from the Revlon Aquamarine range from 1954. This was found on Bawdsey beach during a beach clean.
“And we have a selection of crisp packets dating back to the 1960s, Marathon wrappers, a carrier bag from Spar dating back to the early 70s with ‘This bag is made from Bioplastic and will break down harmlessly when buried in soil’… the list goes on.”
The museum will be open to the general public every Friday from 10am to 2pm, and by appointment for school and community group visits.