Image by Leigh Rose
Words by PJ Serrano and Ben Cadoc
This past weekend we fought the rainy and windy skies and went outdoors. Bit of a silly idea right? However, despite the weather, the cold and the silly ideas, we ventured out and conducted our Winter Trash Count.
Now is when you say: 'Hold up! That sounds cool; how do I do one too?' Well, it's nice and simple.
First, choose your adventure location - we always recommend choosing a place you love. When you start use komoot to record your route. As you adventure, simply count up all the Single-Use Pollution (SUP) you find on the trail. We often go for anything within 3 metres either side.
Make a note every kilometre of the amount you've spotted in that stretch. This could also be every 100m on a shorter route. Once you're finished, upload your route in komoot with a description, tag us and Report Your Data to the State of Our Trails Report.
Check out the helpful instructions below - you can always pop back to this blog post when you next head out.
Trash Counts are simply awesome. They transform your usual walk, run or ride, into a positive environmental action with a clear purpose; supporting our growing understanding of the abundance and distribution of Single-Use Pollution on our trails.
We launch the 2024 Trash Count a couple of weeks ago, and were thrilled so many people joined us to help improve our understanding of the amount of SUP that is out there by contributing their time and valuable data submissions. Despite the stormy conditions, we had runners, riders and roamers alike - kudos to all!
What did we find, you might ask?
We now know that 26% of participants enjoy Public Rights of Way such as official footpaths and bridleways. The Trash Count data collected also shows a total of 144 SUP items littered across 26 km of these types of trails.
Here's an awesome example of a recorded Trash Count in komoot!
We asked our volunteers to record their cumulative count every kilometre, and you would be surprised by how much trash people found. We discovered that the first kilometre of any path is most likely to be the most polluted. The Trash Count results show an average of 40 items being discovered in the first kilometre alone!
This image shows just a few examples of the kinds of Single-Use Pollution found while on a Trash Count - many TrashMobbers can't help but remove it as well as count!
Although Trash Counts are not as satisfying to conduct because there is no removal of SUP (though many volunteers couldn't resist on their own Trash Counts) they are extremely valuable to our research. They help us form a clearer idea of the distribution of existing pollution upon our beloved trails. By counting not only what is found, but where, we can identify hotspots, enabling us to conduct our trail cleans more systemically, while also supporting us to dig deeper into the causes of littering behaviour.
With over two thirds of TrashMobbers responding ‘yes’ when asked if they felt more of a sense of connection to the place after the Trash Count, the benefits to our wellbeing are undeniable. Our research shows us the overwhelming power of positive environmental behaviours, such as counting and removing SUP, to help us deepen our relationship with our trails and the wider world around us.
It's awesome to see that taking an action as simple as counting what you find can have positive impact of people, place and self.
So next time you've completed your Trash Count and are enjoying a well deserved coffee or a crisp pint, why not share your achievement with someone else. You never know; you might just inspire them to take action.
Enjoy learning more about our Trash Counts? Why not share this post with your community so they can learn more!