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Trash Free Trails - Spring Trail Clean Tour

Stories from a week on the road, this is just the beginning…

Hey, I’m Ellie. I’m a designer and I’m here to share my thoughts on the first ever Spring Trail Clean Tour.

We (TFT) exist to protect our trails and the wild places they take us. These hidden playgrounds hold the potential for us to let go and enjoy our surroundings.

Reflecting on a week on the road offers insight into why we do it and what, if anything, does ‘doing it’ achieve. Like every adventure the human race has embarked on we often leave behind a detrimental trace. We’ve become so used to these human scars being the norm that it’s easy to not even register our impact. That’s why we’re here.

We are the tide, we can turn it around.

So thank you to the dusty gravel patches that welcomed us with open arms, you are the gateways for awareness and action through adventure to begin.

What Did We Do Then!?

282 volunteers joined us at 6 locations across the UK. 77 sacks of rubbish was removed from the trails, that’s over 350 Kgs!! Among that rubbish was 844 poo bags… 644 plastic bottles, 141 of which were Lucozade bottles and 744 plastic wrappers.

Phew, that’s a lot of information. Sometimes I wonder if it’s necessary (I probably shouldn’t admit that), but you begin to realise how weirdly complex the worth of these events are when you see how fired up everyone is about picking up loads of gross, stinky dog poo bags from their local trail.

It also offers a space to start talking about what small actions can be taken locally that will have a positive impact to the environment.

I’m massively encouraged when I think that our week of riding bikes, running trail cleans and endless chats about litter will have left 282 people with a little spark to tell their friends or family about what it is they have been up to or the people they met at their local trail clean… positive people power.

Who Are The People That Took To The Trails?

“It’s our mess and we should clean it up.” Eloise 9yrs old

Alfie (6) and Eloise (9) along with their parents bike packed to three of our Spring Trail Clean Events this April. There are so many lessons to take from their trip, firstly you CAN have epic adventures in the UK.

As if bike backing from Coed Y Brenin to Sheffield wasn’t enough the family chose our Spring Trail Clean Tour to act as a purpose for their trip, picking up litter along their route and meeting us at each clean along the way. It was amazing to meet up with the crew each evening and hear about their new found treasures from the roadside, Alfie has managed to curate quite a collection of discarded 90’s house music.

I think that demonstrates so beautifully what it is we are trying to achieve, there is adventure to be found everywhere and nothing is waste until you waste it.

Our planet is fragile and our behaviours do need to drastically change, taking the plunge into a local adventure can inspire you to do just that!

There’s a network forming

It’s not just about the trash, really it isn’t! There’s a network forming.

A pretty incredible network too, full of characters who want to protect these wild spaces.

Take James, ( he joined us for a whirlwind 40 hour Spring Trail Clean bonanza at the Dalby and Grizedale events.

Or how about John & Ross ( after attending both the Bike Park Wales and Coed Y Brenin events the guys took Trash Free Trails back to their local trail, Nesscliff.

And how can we forget this guy!? A 17 year old Jack Russell in a cape… can things get any better? The capes were made by Sheffield local Becky Kirby who joined us at our Lady Cannings event. Dom met Becky at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and after a quick chat it was a no brainer that trail clean capes were essential for the upcoming tour.

These examples are just scratching the surface of the people who are building the Trash Free Trails story. While we will continue to build Trash Free Trails we’re also pretty excited to be unleashing it into the hands of the people we have met and can’t wait to see it develop in different mountain bike communities.

Corporate Traction

As each clean ends our bank of information grows.

Our trails are branded.

We can’t stop people buying things, but with our new bank of knowledge we do hold an unique, and mildly daunting, position in which we can start working towards solutions.

It’s no secret that more needs to be done and as pressure ramps up from across the globe on industry and government to do more to protect the environment it is in every businesses interest to make changes.

What’s Next?

Well, lots of things!

We’ve firstly got to share our stories and learnings from the Spring Trail Clean Tour with the world. We hope this will open up more avenues to explore and add a few branches to the network.

Then there’s a ’State of the trails report’ that needs creating to give us a footing to do more and let’s not forget Tweedlove!

Dom will be running the final leg of the Spring Trail Clean Tour this June and you can join him.

So like I said at the start, this really does feel like the beginning. I feel pleasantly exhausted by the experience and ready to strategise where we should go from here… I also want to go back to Sheffield and ride up the famous ’Shit Basterd Hill’!!! But that’s another story.

Over and out.



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