Armed with bin bags galore, protective gardening gloves and long-armed litter grabbers, team Nexus joined forces with our marketing agency Chalk + Ward to tackle the ever-disappointing environmental challenge of littering. A popular place for barbecue and picnic enthusiasts, we headed to Spitchwick on Dartmoor, following a hunch that this might be a problem area for litter offenders. The results were unexpected! We are pleased to report that we found this area of the moors to be well kept and, whilst we did manage to fill around two dustbin bags in total, for the most part litter was hard to come by.
Our Planning and Compliance Officer, Chris Wilson, says: “There has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of litter we have found over the years. When we first started doing beach cleans, we were just filling bag after bag. That doesn’t mean the problem has gone away though. We believe litter picking and maintaining the environment is still just as important as it was when we began, if not more so. Everyone should be encouraged to get out there and do their bit – although ideally, of course, there’d be no littering in the first place!”
We all reconvened after the litter pick pleasantly surprised and very impressed by how clean the grassy banks and even the car parks have been kept. Whether visitors to Dartmoor are becoming more responsible, other fine citizens are cleaning up, or the local authorities have done a brilliant job of keeping this area clean, we might never know, but one thing is for sure – with our grabbers underused, this litter pick felt a little bittersweet!
A disappointing sight, still very prevalent, are the dog waste bags and cigarette butts scattered in bushes and around the moors. When you arrive at Spitchwick car park it’s hard to miss the many enormous bins lined up by the toilets, but somehow these two types of litter are subject to a blind spot by many.
The Main Offenders
Why exactly are these items so damaging for the environment?
Cigarette butts are the number one littered item in the world, with approximately 4.5 trillion butts littered annually. Astonishingly, many people do not consider cigarette butts ‘real litter’, but this is not the case. They are made of plastic fibres that can take up to 10 years to decompose. In the degrading process, the chemicals within this type of plastic soak into any nearby soil and water.
It is also puzzling why dog walkers go to the effort of cleaning up their dogs’ mess and then leave it tied in a plastic bag or hang it on nearby trees? Some argue that people hang them up as way of protest for the lack of dog waste bins around. The consensus, however, is that it is a result of laziness. We didn’t count how many bags we picked up, but we would say they made up most of the waste we collected. The general advice is to bag and bin your dogs’ mess wherever possible, but if there is no bin nearby it is better to use the ‘stick and flick’ method to brush it away from footpaths if you are deeper into the woods. The hope is that this will reduce the number of waste bags left littering the countryside.
All-in-all, we found the Spitchwick area of Dartmoor to be kept in relatively good shape and we are hopeful that this is a sign that society is growing more conscientious and aware of the environmental impact of littering.
A Moorland Meeting of Minds
Following on from a pleasingly light litter-pick, it was agreed we should make the most of the fresh, open air and hold our regular business meeting up on the moors. So, picnic blankets and notepads at the ready, we set about conducting our meeting al fresco and what a pleasure it was – taking hybrid working to the next level!
Nexus staff run charity and corporate social responsibility activity throughout the year. This adds up to around one day per year per staff member. If we sound like the kind of company you’d like to work for, check our careers page.