Words by Tom Hill
Hello, and a slightly belated Happy New Year to our wonderful TrashMob!
Image by Ryan Lomas
Post-Christmas January is always a strange time. With the socialising and over-indulging out of the way, but the long nights and bad weather still very much hanging a little longer, it is all too tempting to bury ourselves a little deeper into our duvets and wait out the winter.
Even the most passionate of us here at Trash Free Trails sometimes need a helping hand to find motivation. This is the third year that we’ve published our annual Route Map; a cross between a calendar, statement of intent and piece of art. For an organisation that places “doing stuff” at the heart of our mission, the Route Map is one of the most important documents that we publish and exactly the motivation we need!
We’ve spoken a bit about why it is so important in previous blog posts, but summing it up, if our very essence is getting out there and doing stuff, we want to be absolutely certain that we are doing the right things. We want to make sure that our (including our amazing volunteers’) energy is channelled into the most effective and impactful activities over the entire year.
The “Route Map” analogy is an important one. We are maturing as an organisation; we’ve been through this cycle a few times now. It would be easy to just repeat everything we did in previous years. Easy isn’t always right though. Our Route Map allows us to check that we are still heading towards our destination.
What is that Destination?
If you take a peek at that post from last year, or have taken the time to explore our website you will probably have seen our mission is:
To (re)connect people with nature through the simple yet meaningful act of removing single-use pollution from trails and wild places.
It is as relevant in 2023 as it was when we first published it in 2020. The thing is, 2025 felt like a long way off back then. There has always been an urgency to our work, but that is driven by a desire to make a difference rather than a looming date on the calendar.
Now 2025 ain’t so far off. How will we measure up against our goal? What will we do beyond 2025? These are questions that we will more formally answer this year, and ensure that we still have our sights set on the horizon.
Back to the “Doing”
We like to be open about the inner workings of Trash Free Trails, but we know that most of you are much more interested in the practical side of things: what have we got planned in 2023?
We’ve got a packed schedule for the year ahead. There’s plenty of activities and themes that you’ll recognise, as well as some new ones in there. Many are big and important enough to warrant their own stories, so be sure to sign up to our newsletter Trail Notes to receive regular deep-dives into the action straight to your inbox.
There’s a lot of pressure in January to begin the New Year on a high; we instead take inspiration from nature itself, starting slow and steady, investing in our community and what it’ll need to take action throughout the year. We’ll be spending time unpacking why we do what we do with the release of our Annual Impact Report, spending time with our core volunteers, and establishing Trash Free Trails Hubs across the UK.
Education and Youth Engagement
We emerge into spring with the return of our steadfast favourite Spring Trail Clean campaign, alongside more TrashMob Academy programmes than ever before. With spring comes a celebration of community; together we can make a difference.
We will be embarking on Purposeful Adventures and encouraging others to as well. Adventure brings us closer to the places we love. Purposeful adventures do even more; they allow us to give something back.
Return to Research and Understanding
We close out the year with reflection; our research is already making a difference, helping us to better understand the impact of single-use pollution. As we close the year we’ll realise the power of research to have long-lasting impact.
See you out there
We are stoked to share everything we’ve got in store as the year progresses; and even more importantly to meet as many of you as possible and hear your own stories. Keep tagging us on your social media and always, always feel free to get in touch if you want to know more, have your own ideas or want to get involved.