Envirotrek Litter Pick in the Peaks - Light Switches, Wheelbarrows and Dog Poo Bags

Release date: 05 September 2012

Have you ever wondered what sorts of things people are prepared to ditch on their walks out in the wild? Apart from the usual sweet and crisp wrappers, I mean? Well the proof was in the pudding - or rather, in the large number of biodegradable bin bags - filled at the last ‘Envirotrek’ of a series run across Europe over the summer by Dutch non profit organisation and 2012 EOCA grant recipient, Respect the Mountains.
Hard at work
Hard at work

On an unusually dry and sunny day in August and armed with gloves, litter ‘grabbers’ and large bags, over 50 volunteers assembled at Bamford’s playing fields in the Peak District, UK to await instructions. Envirotreks are organised each year across Europe and involve spending a morning cleaning up litter from popular mountainous areas, followed by an afternoon of organised fun in the outdoors, with activities such as caving, mountain biking, climbing and rafting. The aim is that everyone will go home a little bit wiser about looking after their environment.

The Peak District was the first time an Envirotrek had made it to the UK's temperate shores, and it was thanks in part to the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), which is made up of over 80 companies based in the outdoor industry that put money directly into nature conservation projects - outdoor business ‘giving back’ to the great outdoors, if you will.

The results of a hard morning's work
The results of a hard morning's work

The group was split up and sent out to different areas, popular with walkers and climbers to see what litter they could find. Tanya Bascombe, Joint General Manager of EOCA, and mum of 2, took her family along to join in the day. “We had a great day - loads of families with young children got involved. Most of the litter was found at the start of routes, and the further you got from the villages, the less there was to find, but the eye-opener for me was the types of things people had thrown away”. The volunteers found a bewildering range of discarded items from the ‘usual’ : cigarette ends, glass bottles and drinks cans, to the more unusual: a light switch, disposable barbeques, a sheet of corrugated plastic and the top of a wheelbarrow, and the downright revolting: several nappies and a large number of doggy poo bags, most of which has been carefully ‘hidden’ under rocks and inside stone walls.

About 25 bags of rubbish in total were collected - a resounding success for the UK’s first Envirotrek - but also a rather large black mark for outdoor enthusiasts at the same time, when you think about it!

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Both the Breathe Foundation and the Atlantic Rainforest Institute would like to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank EOCA for its support of this project, and its ongoing support of projects like ours across the wide spectrum that it engages in.  Without the commitment and funding from the European outdoor industry ...to assist established or start-up initiatives, many would never make it off the ground... and this [particular]  project and its roll out may never have been possible.
Drew Stevenson, General Manager, Breathe Foundation