If you are part of the Trash Free Trails “TrashMob” – our name for you, our wonderful community of purposeful adventurers – already, you might already know that we have big ambitions for 2021 and beyond. We really do need to think big: our mission statement is to reduce plastic waste on our trails and our wild places by 75% by 2025, and reconnect people with nature through purposeful adventure. That’s four years time. Eek.
The good thing about a mission statement like this is it forces action. We can’t afford to put things off until next week, never mind next year. What it doesn’t do is help us work out how we can achieve our aims. That’s why we launched our Route Map for 2021 at the start of February. It gives us some shorter term goals along the way; small but important summits to climb on the way to our own Everest…
Summit One: A-TEAM Expansion
Our first summit to tick this year is fundamental to everything else we hope to achieve in 2021 and beyond. We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep on saying it. We are nothing as an organisation without you, our TrashMob volunteers. Together we are all making an impact, bit by bit.
Since our inception, we’ve relied on a few volunteers to go the extra mile and organise trail cleans, shout out our message and maintain our momentum. We call them the Ambassador Team, or A-TEAM for short. They are riders, runners and roamers that are passionate about making a positive impact to their trails and the communities who love and use them.
Here’s Ross, one of our OG A-TEAMers explaining why he got involved:
‘As a passionate rider and all round lover of the outdoors I’m thrilled to be a part of Trash Free Trails and an A-TEAM member right from the very beginning.
My love for the outdoors spreads far and wide; from riding my bike to skiing, climbing and scuba diving. This has led me to spend a lot of time in some amazing places and I want to keep them that way: free from our litter and single use plastics, so others can enjoy them as I have.
I see Trash Free Trails as a great way to play my part and help influence and educate others to look after what we all love so much, our outdoor spaces.
The face (and voice) of Trash Free Trails
From a practical point of view, the A-TEAM will probably be your first point of contact with Trash Free Trails – whether that’s a smiling face at a trail clean they’ve organised, responding to an email or social media message about your local area, or bumping into them out in the wild (they’ll be easy to spot thanks to their TFT-branded kit from Endura).
It makes sense, then, that as we grow in ambition, we grow our A-TEAM too...
This year we expect to increase our A-TEAM membership from 20 to around 35. There will be a geographical spread across the UK (and the world!), with A-TEAMers taking responsibility for their local “patch”. More than that though, our A-TEAM will represent you in every way possible. They bike, hike, run and love just hanging out in the outdoors. We will also make sure that we represent the diverse communities that use our trails and wild places. It’s vital that as an organisation we are able to connect with everyone who uses the trails. Only by building connections will we empower, engage and enable them to protect the trails and wild places they call home.
So we’re not just increasing the size of the A-TEAM, we’re also updating and expanding their influence in the organisation - positioning them as the heart and soul of Trash Free Trails. Essentially, it's you who make us who we are. It’s a little unfair for us to decide how we’re going to remove 75% of litter from those places without consulting you isn't it? By giving the A-TEAM greater influence, we’re going some of the way to bringing the TrashMob into that decision making process.
This is growth in its fullest meaning. This will involve, but won’t be limited to:
Monthly, rotational representation in strategy and planning meetings – acting as the voice of the communities they represent
Regular team development gatherings
Leading TFT events throughout the year (in a Covid-safe and responsible way, of course)
Supporting other trail cleans – whether that’s giving advice our helping to publicise
Help groups and individuals have their own purposeful adventures
Connect with local user groups
Work with landowners
Support Forestry England with a specific focus on educating and empowering newcomers to the outdoors, but also working to organise trail cleans and other activities
Work on projects that share the stories of Trash Free Trails, from films to news articles
Plot suggested trail clean routes on Komoot for others to follow
Growth needs nourishment
We ask a lot from our A-TEAMers, so we are proud to be able to provide them with everything they need to protect our trails and wild places, and empower the TrashMob to do the same.
The A-TEAM Charter is a mutual agreement that brings all of that together. It contains our values – the eight things that should resonate with each and every A-TEAMer and indeed, each and every one of us… More on those soon though, as they deserve a blog post in their own right. In short though, we have high expectations of our A-TEAMers because we have high expectations of ourselves. We are positive and solution focussed; and celebrate every volunteer act. They all make a difference.
Each A-TEAMer will have access to everything they need to do their job: protecting their trails and wild places. It's thanks to our amazing partners that we are able to make this happen. First of all, we incredibly proud to announce that A-TEAMers will be kitted out head to toe in a co-branded TFT/Endura Uniform so they look the business while getting their hands dirty. They'll have access to professional training from the guys at Pedal MTB, and our relationship with Forestry England will allow them to properly connect to their local wild places. A tool kit will help them with the practical stuff: everything from risk assessments and H&S guidance to trail signage, and yes an actual toolkit for any trail mechanicals on the way. We also give each member a journal to update throughout the year to record all their hard work.
Providing this elite squad of riders, runners and roamers with this Charter and the tools they need is at the heart of the A-TEAM Update and Expansion, and we think we’re almost there…
Get in touch
‘If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them....maybe you can hire The A-TEAM’.
We couldn’t go through an entire story and not get one A-Team reference in there… thankfully our A-TEAMers are a little easier to get hold of than Murdock, BA and crew. Take a look at our interactive map and find your local members! They really are there to represent and support you. They’ll be only too happy to chat.