Litter and Glitter

Norwood JunKAction is turning waste into thought-provoking art.

Norwood JunKAction is a Croydon-based art eco-community project born out of the ambition to explore environmental and social issues through litter-picking sessions and art making. Since its start in 2022, the project has delivered 80 litter-picking sessions, 20 art-making workshops, produced six public litter sculptures, and taken part in 10 community events and celebrations. One of these was the first litter picking art festival, NJA Celebration, in 2023 as part of the Carnival of Invention – part of Croydon’s Borough of Culture program.

NJA’s ambition is to use litter picking and art-making as a tool for change and to highlight and empower the diverse members of Croydon’s community whose ambition is to inspire and make changes! Moreover, it really highlights the unique community that populates Croydon and makes it a special place to be.

To celebrate this year’s LGBT+ History Month we want to share something special we did last year. We joined forces with London Trans+ Pride to advocate for the rights and empowerment of the transgender community. The litter-picking activity we organised during the Trans+ Pride march was a testament to our commitment to our community, creating positive change on both social and environmental fronts. This unique activity brought not only attention to trans rights but also addressed the impact litter has on the environment and ultimately on ourselves and our communities.

By turning litter into art, NJA encouraged London Trans+ Pride attendees to engage and take action, fostering visibility and a sense of unity among participants and spectators alike. The litter-picking activity during the march wasn’t just about cleaning up the streets, it aimed to address the broader impact of waste. As we celebrated the rights and power of the transgender community, we also recognized the interconnectedness of social and environmental issues. Litter, often seen as an inevitable byproduct of big events such as the Pride, contributes to pollution, harming ecosystems and life, affecting not only our physical but also our mental health.

Riccardo Pillon, art director (left) and Roberta Grant, writer and activist (right).

Our fabulous NJA volunteers, alongside anyone willing to participate, joined forces to collect rubbish during the Trans+ Pride litter-pick. The materials we found served as the venture point for a visually striking artwork that incorporated a pride flag design. The artwork was a powerful symbol of unity, showcasing a collective effort to protect all life on our planet. It not only visually represented the intersectionality of trans rights and environmental advocacy but also served as a tangible reminder of the positive impact that individuals and communities can have when they come together for a common cause. As the transgender community marched for equal rights and recognition, it was equally crucial to recognize the environmental challenges that affect us all. By incorporating a sustainability focus into the Trans+ Pride march, this collaboration set a precedent for future action, emphasising the need for inclusive and intersectional approaches to create lasting change.

The collaboration between Norwood JunKAction and London Trans+ Pride for the 2023 march materialised the transformative power of collective action. The potential for positive change at the intersection of environmental sustainability and social activism through the litter-picking activity and creation of art from recycled materials became once more obvious. We want to make sure our communities can stand by the following statement: When we celebrate trans rights, we are also committed to a world where pride is synonymous with a fairer, cleaner, and greener planet.

Norwood JunKAction is an organisation led by Norman Mine, who is a Croydon-based multidisciplinary artist.

The photos taken at London Trans+ Pride are credited to Michael Vodden.