The Saga of Woody Woods

Yes, according to Google, that is the actual name of this small patch of land not too far from the centre of Chippenham. Although it’s not very large, it could be a pleasant wilderness area for those who live in the surrounding neighbourhood – there’s even a babbling brook running through it. Yet when we stumbled upon the area at the beginning of March, it was covered in rubbish.

Seven hours (over two days) and 33 bags of rubbish and recycling later, it’s looking much better. But how did it get this way in the first place? 

  • It’s a cut through: Used by local residents to get from A to B, these tend to be highly littered in general. 
  • Location: It is also near local schools and students use it frequently, either as a hang-out zone or shortcut. At least that is what we gathered by the decaying rucksacks, ice lolly/sweet wrappers, crisp packets, and other assorted student detritus.
  • There are bridges at either end: For some reason people LOVE to throw things off bridges. If you want to see the most heavily littered area in a town, look on either side of a bridge. Of course, the stuff that ends up in the water doesn’t just disappear either – it ends up on our beaches and in our oceans.
  • It’s a party zone: We found the remains of several fires, a cooking pot, and a handful of unmentionables. As well as the usual scattering of alcohol and energy drinks. More on that below.
  • Dogwalkers: I love dogs. I think they’re adorable. In fact, I’d love to have a dog that is trained to pick up cans and plastic bottles. But dog owners who ignore the etiquette of bagging and binning their dog’s poo can make my blood boil. The number of people who can carry out the first half of the equation but stumble at the second, and dare I say most important, hurdle is staggering. We found countless bags of dog poo along the paths, in trees, and under hedges. It’s no wonder Keep Britain Tidy came up with the idea of the Dog Poo Fairy.
  • It’s a dump site: The biggest surprise in Woody Woods were the piles of unused charity bags throughout the space. These are the type you get through your door, asking for donations on unwanted items to support X charity. They are then collected by the company on the day printed on the bag. Whoever was supposed to distribute these bags apparently did not do their job, and we probably found 300-400 bags in total. They ranged from piles out in the open to piles inside a tree to bags mixed in with grass cuttings (pro tip: you cannot compost plastic).
  • It’s a dump site (2): The number of non-slip gloves found in this area made me wonder whether criminals were tossing incriminating evidence here since they knew it was unlikely that anyone would ever check (it is also possible I’ve watched too much Law & Order and CSI).

We found 352 cans, 282 plastic bottles, and 69 glass bottles just in this area over the two days we cleaned it. Previous to this clean up, we hardly ever found EuroShopper Energy Drink, or the EuroShopper brand in general, but it was incredibly popular. I’ll be writing more about this brand in a future blog entry, but in the meantime here are some photos of this epic clean up.  I wish I could say that this was the end of the Saga of Woody Woods, but I have a feeling we’ll be cleaning there in the future.

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