bttga.jpgOn a towpath clean up, 3 large bags of general and recyclable litter are typically collected each week.

The Barnes Tidy Towpath Group dates its origins to optimists who were (uncharacteristically) depressed by the litter they encountered along the towpath, in particular by the benches. This eyesore was too much for us to ignore. As regular towpath users, we were inspired by the actions of a wonderful lady who had hung bin liners at a litter hotspot near Hammersmith Bridge so we started picking up litter along the towpath. Gradually, we met other like-minded individuals, engaging with passers-by and discussing ways to reduce this litter problem.

bttgb.jpgHammersmith Bridge bench: initially 6 bags of general and recyclable litter were sorted and disposed of by the group.

Despite our best efforts, littering continued and the tide relentlessly brought more debris. We started to question the effectiveness of our litter-picking efforts. Thus, we connected with organisations including the BCA, Friends of Barnes Common (now known as Barnes Common Limited "BCL")Thames21Richmond Council and South West London Environment Network “SWLEN” (now known as Habitats & Heritage). Our belief was that organisations such as these could help us create an awareness of the problem, leading people to reduce waste, recycle more and responsibly dispose of litter, particularly harmful plastics and dog poo.

We have been overawed by the help received. Thames21 trained us. The BCA gave us our first litter pick sticks. The Council followed suit, providing litter pick sticks, gloves and bags and installed new towpath bins by Small Profit Dock Gardens, Ferry Lane, Hammersmith Bridge, Barnes Waterside, Queen Elizabeth Walk/the Wetlands and Barn Elms Boathouse. Local businesses, a sports club and individuals have also provided supplies. Habitats & Heritage helped us set up the group, website and email and continues to work with us.

We are heartened by the response of many local residents, some of whom recount the towpath’s wonderful history. This serves to deepen our sense of responsibility to maintain it for future generations. And there is the kind resident who, hearing of our need for a carriage to shift the mounting bags, found a great use for her disused dog trailer. Others with no previously demonstrated commitment to environmental causes have also provided valuable contributions.

bttgc.jpgOn a foreshore clean-up, 12 big bags of rubbish were removed, including micro plastics which are so hazardous to marine wildlife.

Some people collect litter in their own time whilst others prefer to do so as part of a group. We have, therefore, established regular opportunities to meet with like-minded people, share a laugh and make a difference.

We welcome ideas on how we can reduce, recycle and eliminate the litter around us. Help us protect this environment and the habitats of a diverse number of species to make a positive contribution for generations to come.