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LITTER PICKING

The conscientious​ public solution. 

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

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 constantly dropped are extraordinary. This ranges from an isolated cool drink can to many liquor bottles 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. 

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 damaged environment to what it should be that is almost religious. 

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/

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?
  • 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 Satelite View. It includes car tyres and some asbestos sheeting.

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. Efforts are occassionally made to remove such 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.

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/

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.

WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE COUNCIL website :

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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