Monday, 10 October 2016

An Ice Skate, a Thousand Cigarette Ends and a Bear in a Tree

Julie outside the Marriott in Lynchwood ready for the litter pick

I had a fantastic time last Thursday on a huge community litter pick of the Lynchwood Business Park. This fabulous event was organised by the team at the Marriott Hotel Peterborough, which is located on the corner of the Lynchwood estate, very close to our border with Alwalton.

What started out as a conversation about what the staff of the Marriott might do to become more involved in the local community became an amazing day of fun and exercise in beautiful weather. The whole team embraced the event wholeheartedly. There was even a competition and prizes available to the team who picked the most litter, the team who found the oldest piece of rubbish and the team who found the most unusual discarded item.

Three members of the Marriott team picking litter
Some of the Marriott team with their litter hoard
Two of the Marriott team
The cycleway that runs along Lynchwood is a notorious litter spot.
These ladies did a great job of clearing a lot of the rubbish away.

Two of the Marriott team
Different areas yield different types of litter.
These chaps collected a lot of cans from the bushes that line Lynchwood.

A Bear in a Tree

We were really fortunate with the weather and delighted that some local residents joined us on the litter pick, including 13 four-year-olds and their teachers from one of the local nursery schools.

The children loved helping us to find items to put into our rubbish sacks. They found a discarded leather jacket, a bicycle tyre and one young lady told me that she found a bear in a tree (I'm not so sure about that one - the bear must have run off by the time I got there)!

A bear in a tree
While it's fairly unlikely that you'll find a bear in a tree when picking litter
in Peterborough it is wise to keep your eyes peeled and your wits about you.

Why Litter Picking Matters

It's really important to help children - as well as adults - to understand why and how litter harms our environment. For one thing, a community strewn with litter looks awful and makes the people who live in that community feel awful. I probably hear more complaints about rubbish on our streets and in our green spaces than I do about anything else.

I cannot overstate the great harm that litter also does to our natural environment. If you find the litter that you see depressing, just imagine what harm the plastic rubbish that has become trapped under hedges is doing to the ground beneath it. The longer it lies there the more damage it does, suffocating the ground, harming plants and wildlife, reducing biodiversity.

This is why, when we do our litter picks, we encourage everyone to dig their stick as far as they can into and under bushes to reach the bottles, cans and plastic wrappers that are hidden there.

So what was the most unusual item that the team from the Marriott removed from the bushes in Lynchwood? You'll never guess.

A rusty ice skate
Team 5 found a rusty ice skate in a bush.
Its partner is still unaccounted for.

One can only wonder how a single ice skate came to be in the middle of a business park. And what happened to its partner? We may never know.

The Butt of the Problem

Hundreds, if not thousands, of cigarette ends just like these
were found on our litter pick of Lynchwood Business Park

There are several bus stops on Lynchwood and bus stops attract one type of litter in particular: cigarette ends. Contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable. In fact, they are made from cellulose acetate, which is a form of plastic. Yes, that's right, PLASTIC. If you drop one on the floor it stays there until someone picks it up. If no one picks it up it will eventually be blown under the nearest hedge and it will stay there, suffocating the earth beneath.

The Marriott team valiantly removed a huge number of cigarette ends from the street and for that alone we, and the environment, are very grateful.

27 Bags of Rubbish

Marriott litter pick team
Some of the Marriott litter picking team
Marriott litter pick team
Marriott staff hard at work to support our community

By the end of two hour-long shifts of litter-picking, the Marriott team had managed to collect an incredible 27 bags of litter (plus a number of items such as street signs and parts of a computer that didn't fit into the bags). 

It's worth pausing to think about that. 27 bags of litter from a non-residential area and most of it was food packaging. 

Peterborough City Council does a fine job of keep our streets clean and safe, but the amount of litter that is thrown into bushes is overwhelming and it isn't put there by nature, it's put there by human beings.

If you work in or visit Lynchwood Business Park, I have one very simple request. Please, take your litter home with you. We had a lot of fun on this litter pick, and it was really satisfying to clear so much rubbish from such a small area, but we really shouldn't have to. If you have finished with the wrapper from your sandwich or your can of cola is empty but there is no bin to hand your only option isn't to throw it in a bush and assume fairies will take care of the rest.

Take your litter home with you!

Please use your dustbins for your litter


  1. I love the bear Julie!

    1. I shall let you know if there are any confirmed sightings. ;-)