|The Environment Group in Action|
The group of students who are forming the group are first years based at Middle Mill (MM). Despairing at the levels of litter they were seeing around Middle Mill – caught in shrubberies and out in the open, they organised an afternoon litter pick to see what difference they could make.
Starting at 2, the group worked their way from one end of MM to the other.
|Dumped out of windows|
The vast majority of rubbish collected was cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles and cigarette roll up filters and used ends which had come from the residents. A small percentage has clearly originated from site contractors with scaffolding clamps and insulation material found in the undergrowth as well as large industrial 12Volt batteries and light bulbs.
The worst thing to find underneath on of the bushes was a jerry can with diesel in it, on its side. This was handed into staff at MM to dispose of safely.
There were rubbish hot sports which seemed to lead back to a few students only such as the pile of Domino’s pizza boxes under one set of windows at the back of G block and the same brand of larger cans and cigarette packets and roll up filters thrown on the river bank this time in front of G block.
Some of the oddest things found included what appeared to be an intact lamp, and parts of a vacuum cleaner. The group also found the remnants of a dead fox on the upper embankment when some of them squeezed around some of the planting to collect rubbish that was in danger of falling into the river.
|Volunteers reach far to help clear the river banks|
|Surprise find - a fox skeleton in the underbrush|
The group took the time to separate out the litter into recyclable and non – recyclable rubbish resulting in 8 black bags worth of rubbish for landfill/incineration and 7 clear bags worth of recyclable materials.
Some may think that littering isn’t that big a deal, assuming that others will be picking things up after them, however the issues is that litter never stays where its dropped; a bit of carelessness such as leaving an empty packet of cigarettes on a wall ends up as a bit of rubbish blown into the rivers, out of reach of care takers and affecting our wildlife.
Wildfowl chicks and adults have have lost limbs due to being tangled with bits of plastic in the river; small animals attracted to the sweet smelling cans can end up trapped and dead in the can, as we found out given the decomposing gloop found in one of the beer cans on site. Chemicals that spill in to the river can also cause pollution which could lead to widespread damage, and a fine for the University or individual that caused this.
Unfortunately a day after the litter pick late night takeaways struck again with a bag found in the flower beds that had been cleared the day before.
You can help do your bit by ensuring that rubbish doesn’t get dropped out of windows and that rubbish isn’t left by the riverbanks, especially using the cigarette bins attached to walls around the uni rather than stubbing out and throwing the ends on the floor.
The University’s Sustainability Hub and Biodiversity Coordinator will be producing guidance on fly tipping and waste, and will be working closely with Halls of Residence and staff managing contractors, to try to avoid a build-up of litter in future.
A big thank you to all the proactive students involved in this event.
If you are interested in joining the newly formed Environmental Group email Beatrice on firstname.lastname@example.org