September 22, 2021

Meet pedestrians and bikers who keep the UK’s countryside clean.

How a mountain bike enthusiast impressed a community of cyclists, pedestrians and runners to collect garbage from rural areas

It all started with an Instagram post: a mud face, a cyclist in the back. The hashtags #pinitandbinit and #protectwhatyoulove followed. The post received only 62 likes, yet a movement arose.

The man behind the post, Dom Ferris, a 42-year-old mountain bike enthusiast, draws attention to the name of his Instagram account. Trash.. This raises the prospect that, in reference to this first post in October 2017, it is quite possible to achieve garbage-free biking and pedestrian trails “if” (and here’s the big thing) “We work together” Do. “

The choice of name for the grassroots clean-up movement felt like an important step, Ferris reflects: “It’s very important to me that we are not seen against anything. That’s all there is to it.” For we are “

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Three-and-a-half years went by fast, and Ferris’s idea was to collect hundreds of rubbish from individuals and groups around the UK.

In a significant move, he and Rich Braden (the only other full-time employee in the trash) recently published the State of Our Trails report – the country’s first inventory of land plastic pollution.

However, this is not all simple shipping. Ferris spent the first few years in the “swamp” trying to form a formal organization. At the time, he was working for Sewerage (SAS) against Surface, running the charity’s successful Beach Clean program. “I have forgotten where it is. [SAS] He came – it was basically just two or three people who started the operation and then the others followed the call for arms, “he recalls.

“It’s very important to me that we are not seen going against anything. “That’s all we’re for,” Ferris says. Photo: Sam Dogan.

So, that’s what he did. Here’s an Instagram photo, there’s a blog post. His interest grew, and his friends on the mountain began to ask him how he could get involved. He told his friends. “And the rest is history,” Ferris laughs.

It sounds like a lot of experiments in the trash under his belt. It doesn’t happen. Although the initiative is now a community interest company, and is firmly rooted in eight core values ​​(e.g., ‘celebrate every voluntary act’ and ‘never use accusation, shame, guilt’), the rest Everything is under control.

Ferris is a strong believer in influencing and empowering people, and then leaves them to their own devices. In Trash Free Trails, they use “Inspo” to describe it. It resonates with another linguistic novelty they like: ‘DIO’, abbreviated to ‘Do It Orwells’.

A mountain biker stops at some lost machinery. Photo: Sam Dogan.

The approach leaves the movement flexible. So, when Cowade was impressed, Ferris, for example, encouraged people to map out their daily walks – good, bad and dirty. Named the Selfless Isolation Project, the idea shifted dirt from an isolated process to a means of reconnecting with nature.

Similarly, when the head of a children’s referral school in Wakefield called and asked to use the trash logo for a cleaning activity, Ferris immediately agreed. Not only that, he suggested that his students might also like to learn mountain biking.

The phone call sparked the idea of ​​the Trash Mob Academy, a six-week program to help young people learn about cycling classes as well as the plastic problem of today’s use. After two successful pilots, the model will launch in other referral units across the country.

Trash Mob Academy teaches people how to ride bicycles, and the dangers of single-use plastics. Photo: Amir Bay Butt

Ferris tells the story of one of the pilot’s first participants, a 13-year-old boy who experienced racist bullying. The boy not only befriended his chief bully during the course, but also gained enough confidence to kick start a group of people picking up dirt on his street.

As Ferris notes: “This is a child who was completely separated and who has now become the leader of his community with his own bat.”

Main image: Sam Dogan.

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