Litter picks and cycle path clearance

After two earlier attempts which had to be cancelled due to you-know-what we finally managed to hold a scaled-down village litter pick and cycle path tidy on Saturday 5th June 2021. We hope to hold another in November 2021.

Unfortunately the remains of the Covid ‘problem’ meant that we couldn’t use the very nice hi-vis tabards produced last time from South Cambs District Council nor could we have any refreshments afterwards!!  Still, we carried on regardless (except for some distancing where necessary and mainly in ‘bubbles’).  We covered nearly all the village streets – we were very pleased to find (when cycling round beforehand to see where we should send our pickers) that quite a few streets (mainly the small side roads) needed very little picking, so we could concentrate on the problem areas. It was probably also down to some Cottenham Village College students having carried out litter-picking as their community activity for their Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

One major change – we carried out a ‘Brand Audit’ on the stuff our 25 volunteers collected. Two of us sorted (most of) the debris into brand-labelled items so the numbers of items from different makers could be counted, recorded and submitted to Surfers Against Sewage. Our submission took the writer approaching an hour to enter – the list of brands on the on-line form was very extensive (and partly Americanised). All the figures from all over the country will be used for its campaign against non-recyclable containers and single-use plastics – aimed directly at the companies using the brand names.

Not surprisingly the biggest ‘culprits’ were Red Bull, Lucozade (of more than one sort), and Coca Cola.  The small blue Red Bull cans were everywhere – particularly IN the verges on the edges of the village.  Why drivers need to throw them out of their car windows en route out of the village – who knows!!  Perhaps Red Bull ‘makes you fling’?

After removing the recyclable material (for recycling of course) the remainder had to go to landfill – we ended up with about 16 bags of ‘genuine’ rubbish – there were three very full sacks of recyclable plastic, aluminium cans and glass. There were far fewer face masks than we had expected.

There was also a small team who worked on cleaning up and clearing encroaching vegetation on Histon Road and Rampton Road cycle paths. A lady from Histon regularly litter picks along the Histon Road cycle path so it was relatively clean. However, the level of litter along these verges was generally much greater than in the village – often cans, bottles and fast food packaging discarded from cars. It is both disfiguring and damaging to the environment and risky for volunteers to collect.

Sustainable Cottenham would like to thank the 30 or so volunteers who took part in the heat and sunshine in June 2021. This translates to about 60 hours of volunteers’ time – time well spent given the amount of stuff collected.  Rewarding too – one volunteer said he really felt he’d achieved something and found the exercise very satisfying!

We usually conduct twice yearly litter picks in spring and autumn.

There was a yellow weather warning for high winds issued for the day of the November 2019 Cottenham village litter pick and cycle path tidy which meant our new hoops (donated by South Cambs District Council) were especially welcome. SCDC had also just given us our own orange hi-vis waistcoats and 30 new grabbers so we were keen to put them to full use!

Where possible we collected the bottles, cans and plastics into separate clear bags since they could be recycled if not too dirty. This meant that roughly half of the impressive piles of collected litter (some of which is shown here) could potentially avoid landfill.

There was also a small team who worked on cleaning up and clearing encroaching vegetation on Histon Road and Rampton Road cycle paths. The level of litter along these verges was much greater than in the village – often cans, bottles and fast food packaging discarded from cars. It is both disfiguring and damaging to the environment and risky for volunteers to collect.

Just as the weather turned drizzly the litter pickers returned to base for hot drinks, squash and home-made cakes and a chat with fellow volunteers.

Sustainable Cottenham would like to thank the 60 or so volunteers who took part, despite the blustery conditions. About half of them were youngsters including 15 Cubs. This translated to about 140 hours of volunteer time – definitely one of our most well supported events.

Hopefully sunshine next time??  Details of the April 2020 date in due course!

NB for all our litter pick events, children may take part provided they are under the close supervision of a responsible adult.  Equipment will be provided but wear suitable clothing for the weather – we will still go ahead even if it rains.

It is a great help if we know in advance how many people might be taking part, so please let us know, preferably by emailing Peter Pilbeam on pgp1@hermes.cam.ac.uk or phoning the Chris Ward on 01954 251813