Litter picks and cycle path clearance

We usually hold two litter picks a year on Saturday afternoons – one in the spring and one in the autumn. And if there are enough volunteers, we also cut back vegetation on cycle paths and clean the solar lights. We meet at the village hall and then return there for refreshments.

Our next village litter pick will be on Saturday 27 April 2024. Meet at the Village Hall on Lambs Lane Recreation Ground at 2pm.

It would be really good if SusCott didn’t need to have its twice-yearly litter picks – although there is a steady but slow improvement (i.e. a reduction) in littering in the village a litter pick was needed again. We know that some residents do some informal litter picking around their neighbourhoods which helps.

On this occasion, for a change, the weather was great!  Around 35 people picked litter up from nearly all the public streets in Cottenham and cleared up some of the cycle path from Cottenham towards Histon. Overall, just over 80 volunteer hours were taken up.  The number of people did mean that the routes had to be made a little shorter and more cake was eaten after everybody had finished – an excellent afternoon, in the sun.

As usual, and unfortunately, there were the same ‘hotspots’ as in previous years – firstly the Village Pound opposite the Post Office, secondly the lay-by on the way to Smithy Fen just off the road to Wilburton, and thirdly the verges (particularly on the left) of the roads leaving the village.  Do drivers/passengers buy a can of something in the centre of the village and just finish it as they get to those verges as they leave, and then lob the can out of the window?  We wish they would take their litter home (for recycling of course). 

Also, as usual, some odd items turned up – apart from the usual clutch of hub caps and wheel balance weights there was a table and chair (in different places), a suitcase, a propane gas cylinder, and the top one-third of a fake Christmas tree!  There has been a reduction in the number of cigarette ends being left in gutters, except around where the kebab van parks in front of the village hall (where the number has increased a lot).

We also had about a dozen volunteers for tidying up the Histon Road cycle path, clearing verges back and cleaning the solar lights – in some cases clearing a gulley through the verge to allow the water and sediment to clear into the ditch. Hard physical work but worth it.

Sustainable Cottenham would like to thank all the volunteers who took part, including the suppliers of tea/coffee/cold drinks and (excellent) cake in the Village Hall afterwards.  This translates to over 100 hours of volunteer time – time very well spent.

Overall, a good afternoon outdoors in good weather.  Our thanks to our litter pickers, cycle path cleaners, cake makers and drinks suppliers.  We’ll be back in the autumn if needed, but we’d rather be made redundant!

It is a great help if we know in advance how many people might be taking part, so we can plan routes. Please let us know, preferably by emailing Peter Pilbeam on or phoning Chris Ward on 01954 251813

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.

In June 2021 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. The results are now published – see

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.