Volunteering with River Holme Connections
Being newly retired I wanted to volunteer to help improve the area where I live. In particular, I wanted to help clear the litter I see lying around the Holme Valley. Alone, I had made some efforts near my home, but the scale of the problem seemed utterly impossible. It was then that I met Kim and Lyze from River Holme Connections. They were hosting a litter-picking event, so I joined in!
It’s very satisfying helping to clean up the environment and I had a great time. I’ve since met lots of new people at litter pick events, and it helps me to know that there are others committed to the same causes.
We live in a beautiful area in the Holme Valley and it’s sad to see the way people can be so careless and unthinking when they drop beer cans, plastic bottles and other rubbish. It’s unsightly but even worse it can harm wildlife on land and in water.
I’m hopeful that we’re seeing a change in people’s attitudes. Recent national publicity showing the enormous amount of plastic waste that’s ending up in the sea seems to be bringing about change, and people are organising litter picks all around the country. This is fantastic, but we need to keep the momentum going, encourage more people to volunteer, so that we can expand the scope of our work to educate people and prevent littering in the first place.
In this blog I want to talk about the benefits of community involvement in the work of River Holme Connections for individuals, communities, businesses and, of course, for the River Holme itself and the surrounding area.
One of river’s tributaries is New Mill Dyke, which passes near my home. It runs under a nearby bridge, over which is a lane surrounded that passes through woodland. It is used by commuter traffic and so twice a day is a very busy rat-run. On one side the ground falls away beyond a dry stone wall down to the stream, or dyke, that runs into the River Holme. On this side numerous young trees grow between more mature oaks and ashes, while on the other side are more mature trees and a rough lay-by where drivers frequently stop.
I have walked this lane many times over the last 30 years and have noticed an increase in the volume of litter thrown over the wall on to what is privately owned land. The litter is mostly beer cans, carrier bags, plastic and glass bottles plus large empty paint containers on occasion. In a 100-metre stretch of undergrowth there are dozens of cans and other rubbish that have accumulated.
Why do people think it’s okay to dispose of their litter in this way? They seem to have no thought for their actions, and seem to care little if at all for how awful it looks to see dozens of beer cans strewn in green spaces. As they walk the lane or drive by and throw cans as they pass, why does it not occur to them to take their litter home? Inevitably, some of these cans and bottles will end up in the dyke and then the River Holme, and ultimately in the sea.
We know that people are more likely to drop litter if there is already some there, so it is important to clear litter away quickly. As I mentioned earlier, we are seeing more and more litter picks, including, including here in the Holme Valley. The more we can involve people in such work the cleaner our environment will be.
But we need to work on education and prevention too. In future blogs I plan to talk about the benefits that being involved with organisations like River Holme Connections, can bring for wildlife, the environment, individuals, communities and businesses.
David Allsopp, volunteer.