Our 16th clean up took us back to Belfast, and we tackled the litter in the largest park in the city. Ormeau Park, is situated on the banks of the river Lagan, it is used by thousands of people everyday from dog walkers and joggers, to sports teams and families. It also was the location for the recent Belsonic festival and is the finishing line for the Belfast city marathon. It is a beautiful park, filled with wandering paths and trees. Sadly it is also covered in litter.
On Thursday night, we met up with 13 volunteers from the local area to try to tackle the issue, sadly we were undermanned and unprepared for the scale of litter we would find. In the 3 hours that we spent cleaning the park we covered less than half of the area, pinned down in the small circumference surrounding the playing fields, and BMX track. Walking the perimeter fence, or delving into the tree line we were met with pile after pile of litter and waste. From bottles and cans to, piles of physio tape and discarded packets, dog poo bags and cable ties, none of which will ever rot away and biodegrade.
We managed to remove 19 bags in total but had we had more time or more people involved that number could easily have been doubled. The bags contained 317 recyclable items and many more that are destined for landfill.
The problem really isn't just the littering, although with the park located on the river bank it is a easy source for plastic and other waste to end up in the ocean. the real problem is mindset and resources. We need a cultural shift away from a throw it out, single use society and a move towards a more sustainable, zero waste approach. Because although our volunteers did an amazing job last week, truth is within a month most of the litter will be back, and what we removed will end up in landfill and exit for thousands of years. Littering is a mindset issue, and it needs to be addressed with serious intentions, but wouldn't it be better to remove the items from society instead, because even if it is managed well and all of it is put in a bin and sent to landfill, it is still waste and as we produce more and more plastic that doesn't rot and biodegrade, we create more and more problems around managing this waste and more and more ends up in the oceans and putting not only wild animals at risk, but risks altering the planets atmosphere and the health of the oceans to the state in which humanity and all other lifeforms will not be able to survive.
A big thank you once again to ISL Waste Management for helping us removed the litter from this clean up.
If you want to get some great tips and simple substitutions to help you reduce your waste and move to a more minimal waste lifestyle then check out the simple swaps series on our blog.
If you want to get involved in clean up events like this one then check out our events page here, or head over to the facebook page to stay up to date with any new events coming soon to Northern Ireland.
One of our amazing volunteers scanning the perimeter fence for litter.
One of the volunteers from Vkind hard at work in the park
An entire packet of 1000 plastic poly pockets not used and left in the trees.
Metal rods and scraps were everywhere in the tree line.
We found 100's of cable ties all around the park
plastic wrappers and other single use items littered the area around the BMX track
A 4 ft by 3 ft Magner's plastic advertising poster found in the trees by the riverside.
The results from this clean up - 19 bags 317 recyclables