Worst weather, best turnout

Our first Community Clean Up of 2016 saw the worst weather of all seven we have done so far.  Based on the BBC’s description of the day, we were basically expecting everything except snow (and even that was forecast earlier in the week!):

Areas of showery rain, occasionally heavy with the risk of hail. There will be dry, bright intervals too, with some sunny spells, but a fresh to strong breeze will make it feel chilly.

Despite the foul weather, this was our biggest turnout – 20 people showed up to demonstrate their support for a cleaner Chippenham.  It was great to see so many new faces and wish a happy New Year to the regulars.  To everyone who braved the wet and cold today – thank you!

Even after a year of going on rubbish walks and organising Community Clean Ups, I am still amazed by the amount of rubbish found and some of the unusual items that turn up.  For whatever reason, Donkey Field and the Chippenham Football Club car park have become dumping grounds. Last year we found a box of old uniforms; this year it was a headboard, a toaster, a few bits from cars, several different styles of chair, a traffic cone, a football (which has happily gone home with a new owner), and bags upon bags of rubbish and recycling.  In total, 12 bags of general rubbish were found in Donkey Field and surrounding areas, and 13 bags of recyclables. We have run into some technical difficulties in recording the can/plastic/glass breakdown, but we’ll post the tally later this week.

One of the great things about doing the Community Clean Ups is not only the opportunity to see an area transformed but also a chance to actually talk to people about what’s going on in their neighbourhood. Unfortunately, the number of people who stopped to chat today all said the same thing: the bins in Donkey Field have not been emptied since before Christmas.  That is over two weeks ago.

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I understand it’s the holidays. I understand that Councils are strapped for cash. Yet holidays aren’t a surprise or something that can’t be planned for. As I discussed previously, overflowing bins and uncollected waste are all part of the problem leading to a littered country. Not only does it look unsightly, but the message that it sends is one of “If the Council can’t be bothered to empty the bin, why bother to use it?”  Either consciously or subconsciously, people will pick up on this.

We all want the same thing: a clean, safe community. To achieve it, all of us—the councils and government, local businesses and large industries, and the residents themselves—need to work together … and everyone needs to do their bit.  This can be ensuring that shops follow the law and keep within 100m of their premises clean and tidy (Subway and Tesco, I’m looking at you). Or big brands being willing to work an anti-litter message into their adverts (hello, Coca-Cola and Lucozade! And every energy drink company known to man).  Or Councils making sure their bins are fit for purpose. Or everyone making it clear to their friends, family, and children that litter will not be tolerated.

I am going to get off my soapbox for now, but also want to give you a head’s up that we are planning to participate in Clean for the Queen on 5-6 March. Please stay tuned for more details as our plans take shape, and do get in touch if you’d like to get involved.

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Before: Local youths have made in a den in the “woods” across from Donkey Field, which seems like a nice, wholesome activity … except for the piles of rubbish and the one or two (or six) illicit finds. Even animals know not to foul their habitat!

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While I usually admire the ingenuity of reusing cans and bottles to make new things, this wasn’t quite what I had in mind …

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After: The den cleaned up and hopefully a little less attractive to its users, but more attractive from a natural point of view.

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Before: More rubbish across from Donkey Field.  How many recyclables can you spot?

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After: A return to nature

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Before: This is a “wasteland” across the street from Donkey Field.  Although in the middle of a residential area, it is not owned by anyone, nor does anyone bother to look after it.  Is it any wonder the rubbish mounts up?

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After: Still a wasteland, but without the literal waste.

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Merry Christmas: A little late or a lot early?

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Three different styles of chairs were found in and around Donkey Field

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Our final haul was 12 bags of general rubbish and 13 bags of recyclables.  We are still sorting through the latter and hope to post more about them later this week.

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