What we did
This morning Warrington Rowing Club (WRC) soft-launched it’s community litter-pick, organised on behalf of the club by myself, and assisted on this initially misty but by this time gorgeous autumn morning by Liz Taylor (of LAAMA and other local groups) and Terry Cook (of WRC). The club is keen to support Warrington River Partnership’s (recently founded by myself) goals including a massive reduction in the litter on and close to the River Mersey.
Together we litter-picked for about 1 hour and 10 minutes on and near the north-eastern sector of Kingsway Bridge – a fairly short region including the northern underpass, the north-eastern ramp, and the area from the ramp perhaps 10-15 meters towards the roundabout.
Problems We Encountered
In that time we filled close to a whole bag each, impeded in progress by the fact that most of the litter was stuck in the undergrowth the far side of cast-iron railing with spikes on top!
We have no reason to suspect that the litter coverage ends where we can no longer see it – its self significantly beyond where we could easily reach with our litter-pickers. The sheer quantity of litter on and near the bridge is a major concern.
It is also worrying how rapidly the litter accumulates again after each litter pick. I have been for a couple of months now been doing weekly picks in this area – both with and without assistance – and it only takes a week for drinks cans (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), plastic bottles, cigarette packets and butts, fast-food containers and may other waste items to accumulate in significant quantity again.
We encountered and swept up a lot of broken glass from bottles and vaping canisters towards the middle of the bridge on the pavement – which Liz carefully swept up. This would have been a danger to dogs and young children if it had been left where it was. Below the bridge a lot of broken glass was present on the verges. We didn’t have time to collect it all.
What can be done
Access for Litter Picking
We will need many more visits to Kingsway Bridge alone in order to clear it to a satisfactory extent – assuming that further littering between each pick doesn’t mean we are fighting a losing battle.
The efficiency of such visits might be greatly improved by the overgrown foliage either side of the bridge being cut right back, perhaps to ground-level to allow much easier access to the litter. A downside of this idea is that such an area can provide shelter for hibernating animals through the colder months, and nesting during the warmer months – so identifying a suitable time of year to undertake such a task feels important. Experience tells us that such undergrowth rapidly grows back.
More Litter Bins
It would appear that we would greatly benefit from there being more bins in the area. There used to be just one at the bus stop on the bridge, but it was set alight and subsequently removed, rather than replaced. This is a big shame when this immediate area appears to be in the midst of some level of litter emergency. Admittedly some people are probably too careless to bother to use a bin, for example one young lad I recently observed carelessly throwing his empty plastic drink bottle over his shoulder while walking with his mates. My faith in humanity is not yet sufficiently low that I imagine this to be the norm, though!
Some ideas that might make people think twice before littering might include:
- Put up some permanent signs in litter hotspots such as this making people aware of the consequences of littering in a relatable way. For example, perhaps a sign saying “Litter Picked by Local Volunteers | Please take your litter home” or similar, with the logo of Warrington Rowing Club on it to give local significance, as well as those of Warrington Rivers Partnership and Warrington Borough Council to indicate additional supporting parties.
- While we are litter-picking, we could additionally have the rowing club’s banner out in a prominent position in the area being worked, to make it clear that the club is helping its local community on a regular basis.
- We could while litter-picking do a survey to both make people aware of who we are, but also to gather ideas relating to how people perceive the area being worked, to how we might get on top of the problem.
- Write this blog, and perhaps see if local papers are interested in running an article. Share on Facebook.
- Consider handing out leaflets to passers-by during sessions – if cost and risk of additional littering & waste seem to be justifiable.