After nearly 18 months of running Community Clean Ups, we decided to do something a little different this past Saturday with an unofficial litter pick along Hardenhuish Brook and in the woods across from Donkey Field. Why unofficial? As an organisation, we are required to carry out risk assessments for all of the areas we clean up, and things like water, roads, and thick undergrowth are strongly frowned upon from a health and safety perspective. So invitations went out only to those who were already on our mailing list and had filled out a
liability waiver … and it was fantastic to see the number of people who turned up!
This particular patch of Chippenham is called “Woody Woods” on Google Maps. I’m not sure if it has an official name, but it serves to connect the nearby residential area with Donkey Field and Bristol Road. As a result, it has a number of strikes against it: (1) it’s a “wasteland”, an area that isn’t looked after by authorities and doesn’t appear to have an owner; (2) it has high foot traffic; (3) it has bridges on either end (people love to throw things off bridges); and (4) it’s a popular place for children and young adults to hang out.
The latter in particular was responsible for a lot of the litter found in the central area, as the logs make it a perfect place to sit and eat and leave the rubbish. Added to this is the apparent streak of pyromania: several trees have been burnt out and many of the plastic bottles that were collected show evidence of having been burned or melted.
Overall, we found 10 bags of general rubbish and 8 bags of recycling. This can be broken into 270 items: 15 glass bottles, 123 plastic bottles, and 132 cans. One of the cans had to be at least 20 years old or more as it had a pull top design instead of the modern pop tops.
A number of traffic cones were also picked up, as well as barbed wire, part of a bench or headboard, and assorted other things that didn’t quite fit into a rubbish bag. Many, many thanks to everyone who came along to help out—it made such a difference to this area and showed what a lovely spot it could be with just a bit of care and attention.
We are thinking of alternating our official clean ups with unofficial, to allow us to target areas that need a thorough clean, but which we cannot advertise publicly. If you want to make sure you hear about these, please contact me to be added to the mailing list. If you’re on the mailing list already but not getting messages, please set firstname.lastname@example.org as a safe address so it doesn’t go to spam.
We will not be doing a clean up in August, but stay tuned as we work on setting a date and location for September.