Our RiverRubbish project has been rolling along well, this is the first time we have run volunteer and public events specifically around the issue of litter and sewage in our rivers. This season’s project has been based at the Almondell and Calderwood Country Park, a beautiful site filled with giant luscious trees and gentle country strolls, which the river Almond runs through. The park has been battling the issue of wet wipes being caught in low hanging tree branches; this not only highlights the sewage litter issue but also can ruin visitors’ walks by interrupting the natural beauty of the park. Throughout September a team of intrepid volunteers from local angling groups and the Friends of the Country Park collected an astonishing 1,384 items from just 100 meters of river bank. The vast majority of collected items were wet wipes and sanitary products that people had mistakenly thought were flushable and had come out of the sewage works into the river during an all too common overflow event.

Not content with just cleaning the litter away, we’ve been collecting the ‘best’ items to make into some art work at the country park’s toilets to draw awareness to the fact that what people mistakenly flush they can meet again later on their walk. Annie Lord, an artist specialising in working with mixed materials, has been playing with the litter we’ve found and making it safe by casting it in resin. She’s found this so interesting that we thought we’d let other people play with this art making technique. We were very excited when the 15 places we offered on Saturday 26th October, sold out in a few days.

Some of the casting materials

Artist Annie demonstrating the resin casting method

We were joined by 13 people, from regular park users to people who had never been before, to play with some non-river rubbish and natural materials to make some small paper weights with Annie. They started by placing a  small amount of clear resin in the bottom of a mould and then we chatted about what we’d been finding in the river, people were a mixture of shocked and fascinated! Participants then carefully chose their items to place in their paper weights and set about arranging it. They also chose whether to colour their next layer of resin with green or blue pigment and then left it with us to dry. Today (Monday) we popped them out of their moulds to discover the lovely array of paperweights people had made.

Finished paperweights

Workshop attendees making their paperweights

It’s the first time we have done events with people of all ages and backgrounds making art and we were delighted so many people got involved. We’ll be running another clear ups events again on the Almond at a new site in March and then moving over the Avon in April, both will have new workshops associated with them, plus we’ll be needing new clean up volunteers.

Make sure you’re signed up to the mailing list to hear about when these happen or to get involved as a volunteer.