Wandle cleanup: September 2017: Merton

The one where we ran out of rubbish

While it is fun to have a monthly cleanup with a mammoth pile of rubbish at the end of it, it is also nice to know in some places we are making a real difference. Yesterday, at Ravensbury Park, we saw just that – our work had made a difference.

We gathered in the park at 11am with 80+ people (regular volunteers, new faces, Friends of Ravensbury Park, 13th Wimbledon Scouts and Richmond University) and hatched a plan of what we could tackle as a team.

Two wading teams departed, 1 to clear rubbish from the Wandle and the other to tackle the floating pennywort in Ravensbury Park Lake and adjoining back channel. The river team were accompanied by a strong bank team as it was a long way back to the rubbish pile (600 m) and everyone else grabbed a litter picker and went to spruce up the park. And with that, 80 people went to work!

The pennywort team focused on the lake and back channel. For the past 10 + years, Ravensbury Park Lake has been smothered by pennywort, and each September we have helped the friends of group clear it, for it only to grow again.

The lake in previous years

But the end is finally in sight. Our Wandle INNS Project has been working over the last year on the site to properly clear the lake and when we returned on Sunday, the lake was open water, with small patches of pennywort at the side. Perfect!

The lake on Sunday – with just a few small patches left for us to remove

We asked a team of 6 volunteers to wade into the lake and remove these small patches. Meanwhile, another team tackled the back channel downstream of the lake which was still smothered. Once a net was in place downstream, this pennywort was removed by hand and the channel was free once more. Success!

While this was going on, our river team were making quick progress in the main channel. It wasn’t like some of our events where trolleys and washing machines are flying out of the river, but that didn’t mean there was no rubbish at all. We found tyres, toilet seats and for sale signs..

As well as Christmas trees and toy cars

And lots of other junk and rubbish.

With lunch fast approaching, I started to gather the troops in from throughout the park. And that is when we found the mattress…

The mattress was in Ravensbury Park Lake – a site which hasn’t been checked for rubbish over the last 10 years as it has been full of pennywort. But with that under control, Andy discovered a very old mattress that was full of silt and extremely heavy.

It took a lot of people to pull it on to the bank, and then we had to divide it in to smaller chunks to transport all the way to the rubbish pile.

After that excitement, everyone was ready for a break and so we stopped for tea and coffee.

With the pennywort sorted, the river cleared and the park litter-picked, we had a slightly longer lunch break than usual and then called it a day well spent!

So what did we find?  1 silty, sodden mattress, 1 bike, 1 lawnmower cover, 1 toilet seat, 1 plastic chair, 1 Christmas tree, 1 ride-along car, 1 scooter, 1 laundry basket, 1 dustbin, 2 for sale signs, 3 plastic boxes, 4 sofa cushions, 7 tyres, a channel of floating pennywort and bags and bags of other rubbish.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and for helping me back at the garage, Friends of Ravensbury Park for joining us for the joint event and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aarti, Andy, Bonnie, Charles, Chris, Claire, Cohhot, Daniel, Dave , David , Derek, Freya, Geoff, Gideon, Gurnoor, Guy, Hannah, Henrik, Ian, Jackie, Jane, Joe, John B, John C, Jordyn, Juan, Julian, Lorenzo, Lukas, Lyn, Martina, Mickey, Miriah, Nick, Paola, Paul, Per, Phil, Piero, Priya, Rob, Rolanas, Rose, Saihal, Sam, Sarah, Scott, Sheila, Spencer, Steve, Stewart, Valerie, Wally, Wayne, Will D and Will W. Plus 30+ 13th Wimbledon Scouts!

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? We are slowly winning the battle against fly tipping!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)