Words by Tom Hill, Photograph by Rich Baybutt
How do you define yourself? How do you see the world around you? How do you want to make a difference to that world?
These are some pretty chunky questions for anyone to ponder… let alone for a lighthearted blog post. Talk about philosophy and your first thought might be of beardy old Greek dudes sitting around and writing long essays. Or just people postulating about life and existence in a way that doesn’t really feel very connected to the lives we all live on a day-to-day basis. Philosophy is important though; whether that is at a personal level, or – for Trash Free Trails – at an organisational one.
Crap. I’ve said “organisational” in the first paragraph. I still need to squeeze in “mission”, “purpose”, “vision” and “values” into this one. I can sense fingers hovering over X buttons on the corners of screens. Stay with me a little longer though. I promise this isn’t going to be one of those dreary powerpoint presentations you get when you join a new company…
Click, next slide please.
Right, enough messing about. Why does Trash Free Trails need a philosophy? Why do we need to state what our mission, or vision, or our values are? Well, put simply, they define who we are. They explain to others what we are trying to achieve, and how we will go about doing that. Just as importantly, they also act as a check and balance for us; how are we measuring up?
Our philosophy bundles all of that up and also goes a little further. It covers other stuff, like the language we choose. Why do we always bang on about Single Use Pollution, instead of just calling it litter, like everyone else? (Hint: it’s deliberate and we’ll explain more in upcoming free talk!). It also reflects our explicit aim to be thought leaders. To do things differently. To actually affect change.
One last question; why do we need to tell you our philosophy? Why should you even care? Well, you are “us”. We are one and the same. We exist as an organisation because of you. We represent you, just as when you are out and about conducting trail cleans, you represent us. It matters to us that we reflect what is important to you, and that you feel aligned with what is fundamentally important to us. We would never dream of telling you what to think, feel or how to act; but we do want you to understand what we hold dear.
For those of you who have known us a long time, you’ll recognise a lot of the words and sentiments of the words below and also some small changes. Most of these are to reflect our maturing status. When we first started out, we set 2025 as a target for many of our goals. That isn’t far away now, and we all know there will be work to do beyond then.
Our mission and purpose
Our mission is to reconnect people with nature through the simple yet meaningful act of removing single-use pollution from wild places.
Absolutely everything we do must be measured against this; and if it isn’t contributing towards that in one way or another, we will weigh up whether it is the right thing to do. Intrinsically linked to this is our purpose: we exist to protect our trails and the wild places they take us to.
Our 2030 vision
What will the world look like as a result of us delivering on our mission, and living our purpose? It’s tricky to sum up. We need to be realistic, but ambitious, specific enough to measure, but broad enough to cover all aspects of what we achieve and innovative ideas.
Our vision is:
A healthy and connected community of environmental stewards that care passionately about their trails have created a sustained, 75% reduction in the amount of single-use pollution on wild places.
As individuals our values are a fundamental part of us: in essence, they define us. They represent what matters to us, how we behave, what we hold close. They are our moral compass when faced with difficult decisions. While the world revolves around us, they are what we measure ourselves by. That applies equally to us as an organisation. You can find our values here.
So that is us right now. Or, rather, it is a brief summary of some of the headlines about the what, why and how of what makes us, us. And rather than drown you with more details today, we’ll save the next chapter of our story for our next blog post, and give you an example of our philosophy in action, when we examine why we use the term single use pollution, or SUP, to describe what most people think of as litter. It’s an interesting tale, involving a little bit of history, psychology, consumerism and how we can all seek to disrupt some of the accepted norms in our society.
All that is left to say is a reflection on where we started. Our philosophy is yours. So if there is anything that we are saying that you don’t agree with, or you think could be done better, then we would love to hear from you so we’ll continue to grow together. Drop us a message on our social media to reach out!