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The conscientious​ public solution. 

This website endevours to encourage interest in this wonderful place called West Dunbartonshire. We hope that you enjoy it. And respect it. Unfortunately many people simply don't. This section points out just one manifestation of social problems. And these in turn can provide clues to other problems. All of these are not unique to West Dunbartonshire. But that does not excuse them. 

Also see : LANDFILL AND YET MORE RUBBISH : index.asp?pageid=716559

ACCESS : Local council Recycling Centres are FREE to use for any resident of West Dunbartonshire if not commercial waste. For both private and commercial waste disposal refer to the Council's website https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/recycling-centres/ For commercial waste refer to this website https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/business/environmental-health/commercial-waste/

PRIVATE WASTE : West Dunbartonshire has recycling centres at : 

Dalmoak, near Renton - https://w3w.co/smiled.surface.delays

Ferry Road in Old Kilpatrick - https://w3w.co/scared.probing.troll.

While ideally materials should be recyclable, these centres also take non-recyclable items such as TVs and white goods. Pretty much anything. [Tyres need to be taken to a garage or tyre centre]. 

COMMERCIAL WASTE : Refer to the websites above. 

There are also 125 recycle points around West Dunbartonshire for smaller recyclable items such as glass. And this is over and above the many public bins. Why on earth do people still insist of littering and fly tipping? 

LITTER PICKING This should not be required. The quantity of accidental dropping of litter (such as that blown away) should be so small that it is almost imperceptable. Yet the quantities that are regularly discarded are extraordinary. This ranges from an isolated cool drink can to many liquor bottles and cans overnight, indicating binge drinking, in one location. Crisp packets. Shoes. Nappies. Pandemic masks. Doggy poo bags - often up trees! Unusual items have included a golf bag, including the golf sticks, a Samsung notebook, a scuba diving tank and a prosthetic limb. All this mess seems to reflect on society; not just its lack of care, but its social issues too. 

3 types of litter found in one otherwise lovely forested area. Why bother? 

The wrapper / fruitdrink is very obvious. It could take a few years to decay. Tin/aluminium cans take up to 2o years to rust away while in the interim expose sharp edges to dogs paws. The bottle, in this case brown, is hardly visible, but will never decay. If broken it can become dangerous ot animals and humans alike.

Fly tipping is a much more severe instance of littering - from a vehicle.

The motivations by those trying to address the problem are various and most probably a combination of factors. These include concern about how unsightly the countryside becomes, embarrassment of what visitors think of us and concern of injury to walkers and dog's paws. Overall is a strong sense of purpose to return a blighted environment to what it should be and to some of us that is almost obsessive. Why should we have to put up with such detrimental behaviour to our otherwise magnificent environment?

If you have read this, you are very likely of like mind. Volunteers set out almost daily to address the situation, usually concentrating on specific problem areas. It should be noted that the Council also employ staff with picker sticks to address urban areas. It is the natural areas such as the river shores, the tow paths, rural walking routes, woods and muirs that volunteers look to. And by their very nature, quieter and concealed at nightfall or by vegetation, affected by water flow and wind, that such areas become increasingly and constantly polluted. 

So what can you do? 

You can monitor your area and report it to the council.

You can ensure others throw away their rubbish properly and don't simply discard it on the spot.

You can volunteer, either as an individual or in a group to actively pick up litter. Ask your local councillor about getting a litter picker stick and bags or simply buy your own. Once you have filled a bag deposit it next to a public litter bin. The bin men will do the rest. Where groups collect a vast amount at one outing, collection by the council needs to be arranged. 

The Council welcomes volunteers through its GREENSPACE team to take care of public spaces such as parks. https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/leisure-parks-events/parks-and-greenspaces/volunteer-with-greenspace/ You can get free supplies of bin bags and a litter picking stick if you volunteer to do some clearing.

Many areas that suffer from litter are outwith the scope of the Council, such as river courses and muirland and alongside rural roads. Litter picker groups are prominently active in such areas across West Dunbartonshire.

One of these is the Friends of the Leven River Valley, or "the Leven Litter Pickers", which can be contacted through http://levenlitterpickers@outlook.com

Another is the Friends of Dumbarton Foreshore who refer to their concerns about the shore as "the Shore Thing". They can be contacted through http://shorethingg82@gmail.com

In the Old Kilpatrick area, we see the AOK ie Action Old Kilpatrick do sterling work through their AOK Environment Group. This focuses on The Saltings and Lusset Glen. There is a regular monthly litter pick at the Saltings on the first Sunday of the month at 10.a.m. usually until around 11.30. The meeting point is the AOK container next to the Scout hall on Erskine Ferry Road, Old Kilpatrick.  There is also a regular monthly litter pick at the Lusset Glen in Old Kilpatrick on the last Monday of the month at 10.00 a.m., again usually till around 11.30. Meeting point also at the AOK container next to the Scout Hall on Erskine Fery Road. Everyone is welcome and all equipment will be provided. People can contact AOK through their Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/actionoldkilpatrick & http://actionoldkilpatrick.org.uk/

Some new groups have formed over lockdown. West Dunbartonshire Greenspace have provided support at start up and put them in contact with other pickers. For instance the Linnvale group now have contact with Drumry TRA, Scottish Canals, SUSTRANS, Drumchapel and Clydebank Canoe Club and other groups along the canal as far as Old Kilpatrick.   Anyone one wishing to volunteer as a litter picker or wishing to set up a new group can contact Greenspace thought the WDC website. Groups can liaise with Scottish Canals, SUSTRANS and Scottish Forestry who provide support to remove litter once the collections have taken place.  

So get on your Womble outfit and get busy.

There just may be some interesting items to be found during your wombling, particularly in watercourses at low water. Just sometimes, that rubbish may have some historic significance. That pottery shard or bit of glass may have an unusual form from a long time ago. Look out for them. This writer has found a clay loom weight and a lead bullet in the Clyde and a sonar survey drogue in the Leven probably from about WWII. 

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park has terrible problems with littering. Because it is so beautiful, it is so popular. And unfortunately sheer numbers greatly exacerbate the problems of littering. Littering of course, means that it is less beautiful and less pleasant to visit. The whole cycle becomes completely ridiculous. And the Park authorities are constantly battling to maintain it. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park has teamed up with Keep Scotland Beautiful to support their roadside litter campaign by using messages on bins and lampposts at key visitor sites, but key to success are the teams of volunteers. 

Zero Waste Scotland provide some very useful information and suggestions for strategies for local authorities, businesses, groups and individuals. 

Two glaring issues remain unresolved:

  • Who clears fly tipping onto countryside from alongside our roads?
    • In principle it remains the responsibility of the land owner, not the road owner (the council) but how can they be given this extra burden placed on them? They are victims in most cases.
  • How can old tyres be disposed of? 
    • Disposing of tyres requires a cost through a recognised body such as a garage, but who pays for that? Council recycling dumps will not accept them.

This pile of mixed waste has been alongside Cardross Road on Carman Muir for years and can be ssen in Google Birdseye View. It includes old shed material, building rubbrle, car tyres and some asbestos sheeting. Update : In early February 2024, volunteers greatly improved this location. By late February new flytipping had occurred on an extensive scale. And just when we thought that it couldn't get any worse, the following occurred......

The situation in March 2024. A pallet and other timber. Two large metal framed water tanks. Various containers and packing for building and other materials. And a lot of tar that has since set and resists breaking up for removal. Just how volunteers will be able to cope with this remains to be seen. Other materials appeared on the junction of the road up to the historic hillfort. What at first appeared to be water in one of the tanks, (it was colourless and clear), subsequently turned out to be kerosene. 

This terrible example, also along Cardross Road across Carman Muir,  shows two couches, a chair, two toilets, a washing machine and various other items all dumped during January of 2023. The discarded water tank has been there a few years already and appears in Google Bird's Eye views. Volunteers have been endeavouring to clear this. It takes a great deal of effort and several trips to Dalmoak Recycling Centre to clear what propbably took just minutes to dump.

It takes moments to wreck such a beautiful landscape. It can take a great deal of effort by volunteers to clean it up. This is how one volunteer removed the items depicted in the previous photo - over several days. All but the water tank have now been cleared.

As we entered the autumn of 2023 with the trees turning to a glorious spectrum of red, yellows and golds. But at the lower end of Alexander Street where it meets the Leven, someone has dumped a large load of rubble. mats and a bath. Where is their dignity, sense of responsibility, consideration of the environment. respect for others enjoying this area?  

Litter comes in many guises. Sunken boats are a category of their own. Some are simply abandoned; some damaged by excessive weather and water conditions. The banner used to cover a derelict boat ironically reads WORTHY O' A GRACE.

Perhaps if you grow up with rubbish all around you it becomes "normal".

The safety barrier before the barrage collects a great deal of rubbish coming down the Leven even right up here in the upper reaches. It is rarely cleaned out and is very difficult to access due to the current that can lodge a boat as easily as debris. But during times of heavy rains and therefore flow, much of this get over the cable and barrage and into the rest of the river eventually making its way into the Firth of Clyde and out to sea.

Efforts are occassionally made to remove such boat wrecks, but there are problems. Does the owner still live in the area? Does the owner actually have the physical and financial means to recover his or her craft? Is the craft insured? Once some are removed or refloated, others may succumb and the problem continues. The West Dunbartonshire Council in 2023 decided to remove the worst of the wrecks in Dumbarton Harbour ie the lower Leven and basin. 


Litter is not just rubbish discarded by those insensitive to the beauty of our environment; it also reflects social ills.

Top of the list is probably a complete incapacity to appreciate out environment, natural and man-made and the accumulative effect of even repeated discarding of small items. Add to that the laziness to get it into a bin or to go as far as the offcial free recycling centres.

Why do so many dog walkers take the trouble to pick up dog poop and then fling the bag into a tree? It just doesn't make sense. 

Signs of spring? A doggy poobag entangled in brambles.

So is a now ripe giant bramble berry? Difficult to pick even when litter picking with a grab stick.

And then there are the number of alcoholic drinks - cans and bottles- left about in such quantities that they indicate binge drinking amongst the trees or along the riverside. These are frequetnly next to fires some of which are large, even including car tyres and other such materials with the resultant damage to beautiful trees. 

So is this another happy sign of spring? NO!

Balloons such as this have become more common on the Leven towpath near Alexandria. What at first appears trivial is actually indicative of something quite problemmatic. These balloons are used for administering laughing gas. Nitrous oxide as it is properly known is used to control pain in hospitals, but is also used as a recreational drug. It is illegal to sell if it is intended to produce a “psychoactive effect”, but legislation to control it has only recently been set up to make it a criminal offence to possess or sell it. Announcing the proposal, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in 2023 said: "I, and almost everyone else, is just sick of having to deal with nitrous oxide canisters when they're walking through their communities. And it's not just about the littering, [but] it's about the damage that's being done by the people who are using it." Concerns are being expressed even in relatively liberal Ansterdam. As one user said:  'Addiction left me unable to walk and with nerve damage’. So balloons in the pathway vegetations is much more serious than just littering. The small canisters are often found there too. 

This of course is just the thin end of the problem. Litter pickers also come across the ocassional needle or small measuring spoons.

Be very careful when removing this stuff. Do not pick it up by hand. And dispose of it properly. In fact, if you are unsure how to deal with it, report it to the Council.


Those of us who are concerned about littering are frequently shocked and often perplexed when it happens. So often it is right next to a public bin and almost always in beautiful areas. 

This example is a bit of a confused mix between conscientious collection and exacerbation of the situation. This is the area next to Bonhill Bridge alongside the Leven. It has some remnants of the older bridge set out as a monument and landscaped to create a very pleasant place to sit and enjoy the river. In the background you can see some of the historic buildings up Bank Street. The public bin is just a few paces away. Yet littering here is quite extreme. Some confused regulars have created, perhaps subconsciously, an enormous monument to litter by filling a bin bag and hanging it from the newly restored lamps. This happens regularly.

The psychology of littering really should be studied more. Why anyone would want to harm the very environment that they are enjoying is beyond comprehension to most of us. So to make the process of disposing of rubbish more fun bins such as this frog shaped one have been installed (2023). Almost immediately the situation got worse. The large black bin was ignored and the smaller one soon overflowed - in spite of being very close to each other. Any explanations?

A mallard couple enjoy the River Leven one fine day in spring. Shopping trolleys are a common sight or at the River Leven at the bottom of Alexander Street in Alexandria. Although there are three stores up the road from here, most seem to belong to Aldi.

The impact on the environment is the same. The motivation more delinquent rebelliousness. And the potential outcome the possible missing assistance in a life threatening emergency. This is one of several lifebelts thrown into the Leven when they are installed following yet another drowing in 2022. Most of those so discarded were caught up in branches or rocks and cannot be recovered.

Disposable vapes are a fairly recent problem within the litter around the country, but it is very significant. They come in a variety of colours and flavouors. While acknowledged as a little less damaging to the lungs than cigarettes, it is becoming apparent that they nevertheless do cause harm. And they do little as a stepping stone to get off cigarettes; instead being attractive to younger folk who may well progress to cigarettes. So we have both damage to health and blighting of the environment. During the latter part of 2023, the Westminster Government is processing a bill to ban them.

The warnings are clear.

Alcohol bottles and cans are discarded in significant quanties.

Such a small item. Metal. Signs of a cocaine user. Unfortunately this is quite frequently found by litter pickers.

In this picture of November 2023 on the Leven towpath we see black binbags depositied by a litter picker - the contents almost all from thoughtless users of this route. The clear almost white bag was also put here by the litterpicker, but moved from where it was hanging full of rubbish on the historic lamps at the pyramids that celebrate the current Bonhill when it replaced the previous one. We have no idea why those that hung it there couldn't go the few paces more to this bin. And to all this has been added a toaster, kettle etc. Does this reflect on a poor bin service or confusion on the part of local people? Either way all this is an eyesore to those wishing to enjoy the riverside.


BBC re laughing gas : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-65088226#Where%20can%20you%20buy%20it?

ITV re laughing gas : https://www.itv.com/news/2023-02-14/amsterdams-laughing-gas-ban-my-addiction-left-me-unable-to-walk

KEEP SCOTLAND BEAUTIFUL : https://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/

LOCH LOMOND AND THE TROSSACHS NATIONAL PARK : https://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/national-park-joins-campaign-to-tackle-roadside-litter/

UK GOVERNMENT : https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3417

SCOTTISH ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AGENCY (SEPA) http://: https://www.sepa.org.uk/environment/waste/waste-data/waste-data-reporting/waste-site-information/

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT website on waste management : https://www.gov.scot/policies/managing-waste/litter-and-flytipping/#:~:text=If%20the%20case%20goes%20to%20court,%20a%20person,to%20recover%20landfill%20tax%20from%20illegally%20deposited%20wastes.


On Greenspace : https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/contact-us/other-council-services/greenspace/

On litter control & street cleaning : https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/public-health-protection/street-care-and-cleaning/litter-control/

ZERO WASTE SCOTLAND : https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/

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