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litter

Cause and Effects of littering?

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Cause and Effects of littering?

Cause and effects of littering?

A long time ago in a former job I once spent a week on a really good root cause analysis course. After the course I put some of the learning into practice and went on to lead some pretty significant RCAs, helping to solve and prevent problems that had reasonably large consequences.

How do you solve the litter problem? I did a blog on this a couple of years ago but thought I’d refresh the issue after spending yesterday cleaning up Bennachie for the Real3Peaks Challenge. Some of the problems are accidental, some are just lacking understanding but unfortunately some are just deliberate selfishness.
If you were to complete a full RCA on an issue like this the “caused by” chart would be huge and go deep into society.

The Bennachie team

The Bennachie team

Millions of pounds is spent each your on cleaning up litter, perhaps not enough on education? I do believe if we spent more money on the right messages the problem would reduce. We need to make the issue more personal to everyone, not to just people like myself that love and care for wild places. Can you imagine what the mess would be like if nobody cared? Time / money spent cleaning up is waste too. Time / money that could be put to better things.

The full report on Bennachie can be read below. The Real3Peaks Challenge Facebook page has reports from other areas too.

One thing you can do to help is just pick up something every day. Litter attracts litter. Leave no trace. Take only pictures, leave only footprints….

Thanks

Garry.

Lots of plastic :(

Lots of plastic :(

Bennachie report

A beautiful calm day for our walk up Mither Tap and Oxen Craig (the higher hill..) today.
Huge thanks to all those who volunteered and to those who could make the original day but not today, hopefully see you next year.
In the end we had an excellent team of 10, myself, Sarah, Emma, Sam, Helen, Keira, Rory, Iain, Lachlan (Cairn Terrier) and Luna (woof). We split into two groups, one departing from the back o’ Bennachie carpark up to Oxen Craig and the other from Rowan Tree car park up Mither Tap, then back down to visitor centre car park.
A wide variety of items totalling 15.4km (possibly underestimated, dubious weighing method..) was picked up, including......Cans, plastic bottles, glass, foam, crisp bags, sweetie papers, 3x BBQs (2 at the top of Oxen Craig), golf tee, condom packet, 2 air fresheners...Orange peels, banana skins, apple cores, chewing gum, poo bags (some on trees), a mitten, wipes, cigarette ends, Costa Coffee cups, yogurt pots, plant pot, bottle of pee (possibly..), Macdonalds cup, pink highlighter, pot of bubbles and odd socks!
Bennachie is a beautiful hill in Aberdeenshire and is regularly cleaned and looked after by volunteers and rangers. Huge thanks to The Bennachie Visitor Centre, Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service, Forestry Commission Scotland and Bailies of Bennachie for the excellent work they do. Thanks to Recycling and Waste Aberdeenshire for the loan of the litter sticks and support.
Thanks,
Garry


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What are we going to do about litter?

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What are we going to do about litter?

What are we going to do about litter?

I was up Bennachie last Saturday running a beginners navigation course. From the excellent visitor centre, there are good walks all over the hill, follow the Gordon Way, then up to Oxen Craig or straight up to Mither Tap. For learning navigation it’s ideal because there are plenty of path junctions through the trees and up on the hill enough features to cover the techniques required.  Bennachie is what I would call an accessible hill, it’s one of the most popular hill walks for all abilities in Aberdeenshire. You can spend a whole day wandering around or you can head up and down Mither Tap in a couple of hours.

walking up Mither Tap

We decided to follow the Gordon way to the south side of Oxen Craig. It’s a pleasant woodland walk for most of the way, with a good variety of trees and habitats. Capercaillie are known to wander in the woods but unfortunately we didn’t spot any.

Mither Tap

One we reached the top of Oxen Craig I started to notice the litter. I didn’t see that much going through the forest but that probably because the Visitor Centre recently ran a litter collection with the help of Baker Hughes Aberdeen. They bagged a large collection of rubbish that day, which can be seen on their Facebook post. Another litter pick was done not long after this one with another group of volunteers.

Bennachie Facebook post.jpg

Some of the rubbish was perhaps accidentally dropped. Some of it deliberately stashed under a rock as if it would somehow never be seen again. I see this often on my walks, even up some our remotest Munros but thankfully not as much.

Oxen Craig is slightly less accessible than Mither Tap, so the quantity of rubbish escalated significantly by the time we reached the lesser summit (Mither Tap is 11m smaller than Oxen Craig…). Again, it could be that some of this rubbish was accidentally dropped or blown out of hands. I picked up a few items and put them in my bag.

Bennachie is one typical example of rubbish dropped on our hills, glens and lochs. I see it all over the place. On Ben Nevis last year a fantastic team of volunteers picked up 267kg of rubbish on one day, 100kgs more than the year before! Do we have a growing litter problem? It’s hard to imagine what 267kgs of rubbish looks like!

In an effort to reduce littering, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park have restricted access to the park (see my earlier post on wild camping). Reactively, Councils across Scotland spend millions picking up litter each year. According to zerowastescotland.org.uk, tax payers spend £53 million pounds each year cleaning up litter. I’d encourage everyone to have a look at their website and resources within, www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/our-work/litter-resources.

Somehow we have to break a cycle that seems to suggest a little bit of littering is ok. It’s not ok, if you think the direct costs of littering above are bad, have a read of this report on indirect costs. http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/content/exploring-indirect-costs-litter-scotland.

As this report explains, it’s not just about the money, it’s also about the impact to our environment and state of mind. If no one cares about a wee bit of litter why should I care? It’s a spiral into the abyss of crap.

For your accidental litter dropper, here are my tips:

  1. Take a rubbish bag with you on walks and let everyone in your group know about it!
  2. Open your kid’s sweeties for them, they might give you the main part of the sweetie wrapper but the wee bit they tear off will end up on the path.
  3. Use less packaging, you can put sandwiches in a reusable bag and give it a clean out.
  4. Take refillable water bottles, make your own juices.
  5. Take out everything, banana and orange peel takes months to break down.
  6. Learn how to go to the toilet responsibly outside - https://www.mountaineering.scot/assets/contentfiles/pdf/where-to-go-leaflet.pdf

Finally, if you see litter, pick it up, litter attracts litter. Teach your kids about the impacts of litter. Tell them about the impact to our wildlife and costs to clean up (which they will eventually pay for). On this blog I’ve not posted any pictures of litter on beautiful Bennachie, let’s keep it beautiful.

Sunset over Bennachie
Bennachie

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