Tag Archives: Bags of Help

Wandle cleanup: October 2018: Merton

For our October cleanup we headed to North Road in Merton. This was Jo’s first river cleanup and an eventful one at that, so thank you to everyone for being so welcoming and helpful!

As usual we started off the day with the Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. After a very rainy Saturday night we decided it was sensible for only a few of our more experienced waders to clear the river, so everyone else set off litter picking around the banks, park and roads.

Despite the poor weather we had a great turnout with about 42 volunteers – so thank you for braving it in the wind and rain!

We removed as much litter as possible from the river where it was safe to do so, and lots of litter from the surrounding areas. We found several interesting things, including a pram, half a motorbike, a mattress, a sofa and a chest of drawers.

We stopped for lunch around 12.30 and took shelter from the rain under the gazebo. Big thanks to Wally for bringing along the delicious pumpkin pie and to the mysterious individual who baked the chocolate brownies!

We couldn’t continue wading after lunch as the river had become too deep and fast-flowing thanks to the continuous rain. Instead, we litter picked around the park and the surrounding area. Initially we thought the area was fairly clean but as we looked further and deeper, it turned out there was lots of litter picking that needed to be done.

Here is the final rubbish pile!

So what did we find? 4 tyres, a mattress, sofa, half a motorbike, a trolley, a chest of drawers, a rocking chair, a pushchair, a toy kitchen, a bouncy ball, a fence, a bench, a food waste bin, a basket, a cone, a chair, lots of bottles, rugs and plastic.  

On a more serious note… While community groups like ourselves can make a massive difference, the government and large companies, like supermarkets, are largely responsible for tackling the issues with plastic waste. We can and should all use our voices to pressure our local council and supermarket to phase out the selling of single-use plastic.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie and Wally for supervising the Event Tent, and Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Eleanor, John, Lia, Farrah, Maddi, Eric, Elliott, Wally, Rosie, Chris E, Swzen, William, Martin, Tom, Andy, Wayne, Billy, Chris H, Cuba, Kaori, Elizabeth, Duma, Per, Guy, Jamie, Nick, Jonny, James, Mark, Michika, Luke, Raphael, Dave, Lynda, Paul, J, Nicholas, Rob, Derek, Aaron, Charles and Sue!

See you next month!

Lucy and Jo

Wandle cleanup: August 2018: Sutton

For our August cleanup, we headed to Beddington Park in Sutton.

We started off the day with the usual Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. The weather seemed a bit greyer than it has been for the past couple of months, but this didn’t seem to stop anyone’s enthusiasm to get going!

This area is maintained by the local council, so we were not expecting to find as much litter here compared to other sites. However, our volunteers still managed to find many plastic bottles, tin cans, plastic bags within the first couple of hours.

Within about 10 minutes, we also found two orange construction fences.

Halfway down the first stretch of river, a tree had fallen across the channel. This trapped quite a lot of plastic which we managed to clear. We also removed a road sign from this area too.

After a quick lunch break, we headed down the river once again, into the park. Derek managed to find a shopping trolley, however there was not much litter to find on this stretch of river.

In addition to litter, the river banks along this site were once heavily infested with Himalayan balsam, an invasive plant. We have been working with volunteers over the last few years to tackle balsam and were happy to see very few plants during this cleanup! This goes to show that the hard work of our volunteers is paying off.

So what did we find? 2 traffic cones, 2 construction fences, 1 road sign, 1 golf ball, 1 handbag, 1 plastic snake, 1 shopping trolley, 1 flag, 4 hub caps, wooden boards and planks, metal scraps, bags and bags of other items including tin cans, food wrappers, plastic bags and plastic bottles.

On a more serious note… These events truly demonstrate the impact that plastic waste is having on the environment. At every cleanup, we find many plastic bottles in the river, which can take up to 450 years to degrade in water! One easy thing that anyone can do to tackle this problem is to buy and use a reusable bottle.

Huge thanks for the warm welcome, and to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Dave for leading the work with Himalyan balsam, and Sutton Council for organising the collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Amy, Martin, Steve, Derek, Paul, Sheila, Gearoid, John, Paul, Sue, Simon, William, Aaron, Phil, John, Sue, Sarah, Marilyn, Nico, Euan, Olivia, Charles, Rosie, Dave, Neil, Ser, Wally, and Chris. We had three new volunteers this month, so once again thank you to Euan, Paul and Gearoid for joining us. We hope you enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing you again at future events.

See you next month!

Lucy and Hannah

Wandle cleanup: July 2018: Sutton

For our July cleanup, we headed to Goat Road in Mitcham.

This was the first event that myself and Hannah ran since taking over from Polly and we would like to thank everyone for being so welcoming and helpful. We would especially like to thank Polly for showing us the ropes!

We started off the day with the usual Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. It was very hot, but everyone was still eager to get wading and litter picking! We had a great turnout with about 30 volunteers working hard in and around the river.  A few members of the group also spotted some Himalayan balsam and worked as a team to remove it before it could spread seeds any further.

Throughout the day we removed lots of plastic litter and we also found a few interesting things, including a passport, a hammer, a king size mattress, a fridge, a (fake) Rolex and a pram.

Our lunch break consisted of cake eating, tea drinking and hiding out in the shade, before setting off again further along the river into Poulter Park.

Due to the fast flow and depth of the water, we could not wade along much of the river here, but we still came across a child’s bike, and of course lots more litter!

So what did we find? 1 watch, 1 passport, 1 bike, 1 santa hat, 1 hammer,  1 2012 calendar, 1 coconut, 1 golf ball, a king size mattress, a fridge, a motorcycle helmet, a large pipe, a scooter, 2 footballs, 3 chairs, 7 tyres, and of course, lots of plastic bags, bottles and wrappers.

We ended the day by showing how two minds really are better than one as we all worked together to ram the van full of all the equipment in some sort of organised manner (you’ll all be happy to know that Hannah and I were not flattened by any equipment when we unloaded the van!)

On a more serious note…These events truly demonstrate the impact that plastic waste is having on the environment, and why we all need to help tackle the plastic pollution issue now. It is great to see both regular and new faces coming along to our events – let’s keep up the good work!

See you next month!

Lucy and Hannah

Huge thanks for the warm welcome, and to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, and Sutton Council for organising the collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Chris, Steve, Neil, Tom, Damon, Tom, Charles, Rose, John, Joanne, David, Paul, Steve, Per, Nick, Sarah, Dave, Will, Simon, Tim, Martin, Derek, Guy, Stewart, Sheila, Chris, Phil, Luke, Lynda and Wally.

Wandle cleanup: June 2018: Wandsworth

For June we headed to Ravensbury Terrace in Earlsfield, Wandsworth.

At this event, Polly was accompanied by myself (Hannah) and Lucy. We will be taking over from Polly and running the cleanups from July 2018. This month was our chance to learn the ropes!

We kicked off the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. It was a wonderful warm and sunny day, so it came as no surprise that everyone seemed keen to get wading shortly afterwards.

We had a great turnout, with around 50 volunteers working in and alongside the river. Whilst removing litter, some of the group concentrated on removing Himalayan balsam, an invasive plant species, from the river banks.

Here is the before and after!

Although we had recently visited this site back in January, the group quickly found our first big item – a Boris bike!

Followed by… another bike!

As the day went on, we found some other interesting items including a driver’s license, a teapot, a gold watch, coconuts, and a raccoon (don’t worry, not a real one), which Polly gave a new home.

Our break for lunch was a nice opportunity to cool off, drink some water and of course fill up on some cake.

The second half of the day was spent removing anything we had missed, and we found some wooden desks, and this teapot!

So what did we find? 1 VHS, 1 carpet, 1 speaker, 1 scooter, 1 Disney art box, 1 teapot, 1 raccoon, 1 bracelet, 1 watch, 1 driver’s license, 1 bucket on wheels, 1 trolley bag, 2 bikes, 2 footballs, 2 coconuts, 2 golf balls, 2 wooden desks, some silver piping and lots of glass and plastic bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags and bits of cloth – and bags and bags of other junk.

We also spotted a Cinnabar moth, which I had never seen before (thanks Dave)!

See you next month!

Hannah and Lucy

Huge thanks for the warm welcome, and to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally and Maddy for supervising the Event Tent, and Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Aaron, Alison, Anne, Bridget, Charles, Chris, Dave, David C, David D, Derek, Ed, Eiryn, Ethan, Garth, Gemma, Gideon, Guy, Hugh, Ian, Jack, Jane, Jason, Jeffrey, Jo, Joanne, Joe, John, John, Luke, Madeline, Mark, Martin, Nick, Nicola, Paul, Per, Phil, Raphael, Robyn, Rory, Sally Ann, Sheila, Simon, Steve B, Steve N, Suzanne, Thomas, Wally and William.

Wandle cleanup: May 2018: Merton

The one with the prehistoric trolley… 

For May’s cleanup we headed to Plough Lane in Merton – a site we hadn’t visited for over a year.

The day started in the usual way, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. It wasn’t long until we were trekking down the Wandle Trail to get into the river and start the rubbish hunt.

It was a sunny, spring day and the vegetation along the banks was a gloriously green backdrop to our wading party. Within half an hour, the first item was found – a car seat!

As the day continued, Plough Lane gave us some equally interesting finds including a briefcase…

…A ukulele – nice playing Phil!

…A drone…

And perhaps my favourite find – a Pokeball. I had always wanted one growing up and this was my lucky day!

By lunch time we were all gasping for a drink and headed back to the tent for a break and some lunch.

In the afternoon, the wading team found a couple of challenges to keep themselves busy. The first was a trolley which, by the state of it, had been in the Wandle for many, many years.

The second was a bicycle – again buried so deep in the silt we were not sure what it was for about half an hour!

To finish the day we found a scooter and used it to head all the way back to the tent to pack up.

So what did we find?  1 trolley, 1 scooter, 1 jumper, 1 drone, 1 bicycle, 1 child bike, 1 washing line, 1 till, 1 licence plate, 1 dinosaur (and no I didn’t keep this one), 1 car mat, 3 dust sheets, a hessian bag full of rubble, 8 carpets and bags and bags of other junk.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, and Merton Council for organising the collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:    Alice, Andy, Annabelle, Becky, Beth, Bridget, Caitlin, Carol, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, Dave , Derek, Ed, Edward, Eiryn, Ethan, Garth, Gideon, Guy, Jim, Joanne, John, Kory, Lloyd, Madeline, Martin, Mevan, Michael, Paddy, Paul, Penny, Per, Phil R, Phil S, Rose, Sarah, Sheila, Simon, Steve, Stewart, Sue, Thomas, Toby, Tom, Wally and William.

Wandle cleanup: March 2018: Merton

The Great British Spring Clean 2018

Our March event was part of The Great British Spring Clean!

The Rivers Trusts joined Keep Britain Tidy in assembling an army of #litterheroes for a UK wide mass cleanup. Did you know 80% of plastic in the oceans comes from land, and rivers are a significant pathway for it to get there? Well that is why in March this year, rivers trusts up and down the country held volunteer events to help clean up our rivers and beaches. So we stepped up on the Wandle!

The day started in the usual way, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing, and after that, our Litter Heroes set off to clear Waterside Way in Merton.

We have cleaned this site a fair few times now, and we always find large carpets, and today was no exception. We hauled this one out at the beginning of the event, and there were more to come.

Parts of a car started to emerge as well, such as tyres, a car bonnet …

.. an exhaust pipe…

And the car seat….

We have no idea if these were all from the same car, or bits of several different ones!

A computer keyboard was found so I could start writing this blog on site.

And a new toy for myself, a little squid which I took home and kept.

At lunchtime we were all starving, so we all headed back to eat our lunches, cake and warm up a bit with tea and coffee.

In the afternoon, some more great finds were discovered.

A razor shell…

A sad teddy bear

And a fyke net!

So what did we find?  1 fyke net, 1 tennis racket, 1 scooter, 1 walking stick, 1 Christmas tree, 1 sink, 1 squid toy, 1 car bonnet, 1 exhaust pipe, 1 toilet seat, 1 car seat, 1 sad teddy bear, 2 umbrellas, 2 frying pans, 2 traffic cones, 2 coconuts, 3 hoovers, 3 carpets, 3 wooden fencing posts (1 with its concrete base), 3 radios, 5 tyres, bits of several small kids’ bikes, bags and bags and bags of rubbish – I think we got through 120 sacks at least!

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aaron, Andy, Benit, Chris E, Chris S, Daniel, Dave, David, Derek, Ed, Eddie, Frank, Gideon, Guy, Ian, Jamie, Jane, Joanne, Joe, John, Johnny, Madeline, Neil, Nick, Patrick, Paul, Penny, Per, Phil R, Phil S, Rory, Rose, Sheila, Simon, Steve B, Steve Mc, Steve M, Stewart, Su, Thomas, Tom, Wally and William.

Wandle cleanup: February 2018: Sutton

The one when it was very, very, very cold

 For February we headed to Poulter Park in Sutton, on a very cold day.

We kicked of the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. With the cold temperature, everyone was eager to get moving and so the event began!

As the event started, rubbish was slow to find. Our wading team made it quite a distance up the river before having to unload their first trugs – but as soon as they started, it didn’t stop!

Trug after trug full of cans, bottles, plastic bags and more were emptied and taken back to the rubbish pile. It wasn’t long until the classic Wandle coconut was found either!

After a short while, a smaller team of waders broke from the usual group and headed right to the other end of the park at Watermead Lane. They had their sights set on a safe that was rumoured to have been in the Wandle for 10 years or more.

The safe had not previously been tackled, as it was extremely heavy. However, with the extra bodies today, and the need to stay warm with lots of exercise, the challenge was accepted!

Dislodging the safe from the silty bed took some serious crow bar work. Then began the negotiations to get the safe up on to the river bank.

Ropes, crow bars and muscle seemed to be the solution but it still took considerable effort.

Once it was “ashore”, it dawned on everyone that we had only made it halfway, and the real test was getting it to the road so it could be collected.

The safe was eventually placed atop a wheel barrow, and an escort of 8 people carefully pushed it all the way to the end of Watermead Lane for collection.

After all this effort, it was time for cake. We were very happy to see the students at Richmond International University had baked some lovely Valentine’s treats for us again.

After lunch, we finished the remaining 100 m of the Wandle in the park, but with the temperature plummeting and little rubbish to be found, we stopped for the day to go home and defrost.

So what did we find?  1 safe, 1 duvet, 1 freezer, 1 rubber dinghy, 1 bag of apples, 1 coconut, 1 hedge trimmer, 1 motorbike, 1 scooter, 2 footballs, 2 traffic cones, 3 carpets, 8 metal poles and bags and bags of other smaller junk including plastic bottles, food wrappers and plastic bags.

We also saw a Kestrel, a Heron and a Little Egret while working!

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent on such a cold day, the students at Richmond International University for baking such lovely treats and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:    Andy, Ann, Carl, Charles, Cheick, Chris, Dave, David, Derek, Ellie, Eve, Frank, Gearoid, Gideon, Gustina, Guy, Hannah, Ian, Isabel, James, Joe, John, John, Kayle, Keith, Martin, Max, Michelle, Nikolay, Nikolett, Paul, Rosie, Sam, Sanud, Sheila, Simon, Sofia, Steve, Steve, Stewart, Thea, Theadore, Victoria, Vincent Wally, Wayne, William H and William M.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? No amount of hot tea can keep you warm!

 

Wandle cleanup: November 2017: Merton

The one where the police were called on us…

On a cold November morning, I arrived at North Road, Wimbledon to set up for this month’s Wandle cleanup. As I was unloading the van with a couple of helpers, a police car pulled up.

Although we knew we’d done nothing wrong, we were slightly nervous as they approached. It turned out that someone had reported fly-tipping from a Zip Van, and the police had come to check it out, only to find the Wandle Trust setting up our event to tackle fly-tipping.

So that was ironic – but if you’re reading this, and you were the person who made that call – thank you for caring so much about keeping the Wandle Valley clean, and don’t stop making those calls if you see anything suspicious!

With that all sorted, and no one arrested, I gathered our 45 volunteers to take a two minute silence for Remembrance Sunday, and then got our cleanup started.

This is the first event supported by the Tesco Bags of Help Fund which offers community groups and projects across the UK a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags.

Our project, Wombles of the Wandle, was successful in receiving £2,000 after coming second in the public vote. The money will be used to run two Wandle cleanups in the Merton area and to replace some equipment such as gloves.  So a big thanks to all who voted for us. We have already put the money to good use…

To get started, we headed down to the footbridge by Garfield Recreation Park and got in to the Wandle to work upstream. The water was much deeper than usual, with poor visibility. This was due to heavy rainfall overnight, and some natural woody material which had fallen in the river, creating some excellent new habitats for fish in what was previously quite a straight, uniform channel.

While we loved the new additions to the channel, it did make our event a bit harder, with logs and bits of tree to navigate over, and deeper water. In fact, in some places it was so deep we had to get out and walk along the bank until the level had dropped.

Despite the additional challenges, rubbish was found. We cleared 15 bags of plastic bottles which had accumulated near one tree trunk..

We found the token Wandle coconuts too, as well as a green pepper, carved pumpkin and apples…

We also found this commemorative mug from Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding.

By lunch time we were freezing and headed back to the tent for tea and cakes, as well as some delicious savoury snacks made for us by the students from the Richmond International University. However, we didn’t stop for long as the weather wasn’t getting any warmer and it was better to be moving than standing still.

After lunch, we headed under the North Road bridge and continued upstream. Again, the water was deep and murky, but we found a few things which made our trip worthwhile, including a sofa…

A Merton Council waste bin…

And a bike.

With 500 m of the Wandle covered in this cleanup, we called it a day and all went home to defrost.

So what did we find?  1 carved pumpkin, 1 green pepper, 1 step ladder, 1 computer chair, 1 Vishnu statue, 1 Prince Charles & Princess Diana mug, 1 piece of guttering, 1 shopping basket, 1 bicycle, 1 tyre, 1 bike wheel, 1 wheelchair, 1 mattress, 1 duvet, 1 Merton Council waste bin, 1 sofa, 2 wooden pallets, 10 coconuts, 15 tennis balls, 15 bags of plastic bottles and bags and bags of other junk.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally for supervising the Event Tent, the students from Richmond International University for baking such yummy treats and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aaron, Alec, Andrew, Andy, Beth, Carl, Charles, Chris, Christine, Claire, Dave, David, Derek, Emily , Fahad, George, Guy, Hayley, Ian, James L, James T, Jayne, Joe, John, Kai, Karoline, Korab, Lisa, Michael D, Michael O, Mickeif, Nick, Per, Phil R, Phil S, Rolanas, Sheila, Steve, Stewart, Thea, Thomas, Wally, Wayne and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? Tick off all the equipment as you pack the van so you don’t have to drive back to site at 5pm and dig through the rubbish pile to find the missing Wandle Trust flag. I looked like a crazy person…