Since RAR started in 2016, we’ve grown every year. 2019 was no different, it’s been another great year.
Below are a few highlights of the year, but the real highlight is seeing more and more people engaged in reducing human impact on the world – through litterpicking, by lobbying manufacturers to reduce unnecessary packaging, and by being aware of our own impact. We can all make a difference!
The impact of Pick the Path continued into this year with another increase in membership in the South West, helped hugely by Charlie being a star and spreading the word and positive vibes around Devon and further afield.
We had a fantastic weekend at ShAFF in March, the highlight of which was taking a team of parents and youngsters out to clear litter from a park near to the festival base. A very small act, but the energy of the guys was awesome – Jane from ShAFF and I were slightly terrified as we watched children clamber down into the stream to pick up heavy tins of toxic paint, but fortunately everybody came out unscathed and the park looked so much better. For every adult that drives me to despair, there is an army of children that pick me up and remind me that all we have to do is act.
The same weekend, we took part in the BIG Running Weekend organised by Accelerate. It was another great event and we were really chuffed with how interested people were in listening to us, and how many people came out with us for litter-picking runs from Thursday morning to Sunday night!
Probably our biggest event of the year was the Fell and Hill relays in October. We had our little stand set up in the spectacular event field below Derwent Dam. The event was a great success thanks to Dark Peak Fell Runners, and we were delighted to be involved. We met lots of runners from across the country, signed up new members and had a very positive response. But even before the glamour of the big day, our volunteers put in a huge amount of effort on the big A57 Litterpick. We collected a massive amount of rubbish and would like to say another mega thank you to everyone who came out.
After the relays, we swept the hillsides in search of any rubbish which may have accidentally been dropped or lost. All we found were faded wrappers and helium balloons – of course we’d rather not find them, but after hundreds of runners had taken part in one of the biggest races of the year, finding no running rubbish was very positive.
As well as these big events, we’ve done lots of little things this year: A couple of trips to see our favourite cubs, a clean up operation at Wimberry rocks, helping organise events at Universities and schools, and countless small litterpicking runs. You have also done the same, and seeing the small but regular commitment from runners every day is what really inspires us. Thank you all! We’ve given away a good few prizes this year too, and there will be more next year so keep getting involved and keep in touch! Let us know what you’re up to via @RunnersVRubbish on Twitter.
We’ve got big plans again for next year, including a return of Pick the Path, a weekend at some classic Lakeland fell races, and much more. Since my work has become more closely aligned to RAR, in January I’ll be visitng The Gambia on what I’m sure will be an eye-opening and terrifying visit. I’ll also be meeting friends from Waste Aid to see how their amazing project is helping reduce the damage of plastic waste. 2020 could be the year RAR goes truly international!
2019 has been a cracking year, but as ever there’s still loads to do. Awareness of the damage that we can do to the world is growing, but there are still irresponsible people and organisations out there. We all need to do our bit. Litterpicking is a sticking plaster measure rather than a solution, but there is evidence that by keeping the environment free of litter, the likelihood of littering is reduced, so stay positive and keep making a difference in 2020!
Thank you, have a great Christmas and see you in the new year!