There is a strong movement, a voice growing throughout the outdoor community recently and it concerns all of us who love and use our glorious country side.
It seems in recent years the appropriate disposal of waste manages to escape some people ( I know madness), so I thought I would have a little moan myself on the topic.
We all love the outdoors and for what ever reason be it work, escapism or just relaxation we have a joint responsibility to look after this precious resource. It infuriates me when im out to see packaging needlessly discarded, it might be a surprise to some but they DONT BIO-GRADE, and no one is paid to PICK IT UP AFTER YOU!!! it’s a suprise eh but there you go.
Take the UKs 3 biggest peaks annual challenge, which attracts some 30,000 people, this is on top of the 250,000 that scale Snowdon, 100,000 ascents of Ben Nevis and a similar estimation for Scafell (2014 stats). That is a staggering amount of feet coming and going.
It’s an even more staggering amount of potential waste, the Real3Peaks challenge was the brain child of Richard Pyne a mountain leader concerned with the amount of little discarded in the hills. In 2015 a total of 513.5kg was removed from the three peaks, that included a staggering 500 plastic bottles from Snowdon alone.
- 2013 265kgs
- 2014 423kgs
- 2017 results show a staggering 570g, now this takes into account larger volunteer group, more paths and hills.
Although year on year the amount has grown, this may in part be due to more volunteers taking part, but it clearly shows in one day how much can be collected, this also cannot take account of the bits that have been blown away and hidden.
From reading various group posts it would appear that the number one peeve is dog muck in black bags, yep those delightful stinky tree decorations or handy path markers we see, I often wonder what people think happens to these when they’ve bagged it. Hang it in a tree and????? Does someone else come collect it, erm? No it just so happens it hangs there stinking until the poo degrades, go figure. Dog poo seems to be a growing issue, yes it does degrade but not until it has caused other issues. When the poop degrades it enriches the soil thus changing its structure, over time this can change a habitat to the point where plants and wildlife can no longer survive, the poo also present a risk to cattle by spreading a neurological disease.
It seems that firm stats on the matter of litter are few and far between and perhaps more study into amounts and types needs to take place, Dartmoor national park spends around £20,000 per year cleaning up after others, tents, disposable BBQs, plastic and even sleeping bags? Are just some examples that have been found. I have also seen cars, human poo, sanitary products, large calor gas bottles and even clothing discarded in some random places along with graffiti scratched or painted onto rocks.
Of the varying articles ive managed to find there appears on average 100-200 black bin bags collects in anyone go, these areas vary from car parks to high trail paths, with our countryside becoming a magnet to fly tippers.
With blogs like this, TV shows and books all encouraging us to get out more and experience the outdoors we have a responsibility to educate as much as we can. But not everyone sees it like this,one such article by a mountain guide website seemed to attract some rather strange backlash and lead to the author being labeled Mountain Police!! Simply because he asked people to be more responsible with litter, so I would be interested to see how people view litter on the hills, im sure any survey would quite rightly show that people hate it, but then why do people do it. It would seem a stretch to say that only around 10% are the cause due to the amount.
Time to degrade.
So all them things you add to your compost heap at home, great arnt they. The right conditions and heat all designed to speed up the disposal of organic matter. Out on the hills those conditions do not exist, so how long do these everyday things take to vanish
- Orange and banana peel 2 years, plus it add unneccessary nutrients the soil and changes soil PH
- Chewing gum 1 million years ( that’s not a joke either)
- Apple core 8 weeks
- Plastic bottle 450 years.
surprised by any of that? I was especially about chewing gum.
Times a changing
When I’ve been on events I also see discarded cups and energy gell packs from people who claim to be responsible, but there is some good news, as a few ultra events are paving the way for cupless approach, although small its a great start, people are encouraged to bring their own cups for check points and I know even this simple approach has caused some controversy, why I don’t know.
The advice is simple, what you bring you take home. Plain and simple.