River Survey

Project development for Brecks, Fen Edge and Rivers Landscape Partnership.

Santon Downham picnic site is our first litter survey location on the Little Ouse. We’re looking to get a feel for the amount and type of objects being left behind to develop activities that engage local river users with river health.

We are already into the warm weather of lockdown and the river is experiencing a wave of visitors, many of these are here for the first time. We decide to photograph every object on the ground in a 2 metre band from carpark to river.

The act of close up photography draws the attention of visitors, people want to know what we’re up to.
Their response, ‘You’ll never change people’s behaviour, your only chance is education in primary schools’.

I often wake in the night pondering the question of littering. Many factors seem to be in play: accidental littering, defiance, rule breaking, peer pressure, laziness, lack of disposal facilities, lack of education about the consequences, cultural and social habits.

How is public behaviour changed, perhaps the act of littering needs to be considered something weird, out of the ordinary, unheard of. This is how we now think about other social problems such as smoking on planes, it seems inconceivable that we used to do it.

Plenty to think about for our Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers project proposal.

And this some of what we discovered in our survey. By photographing even the smallest objects we attempt to treat each item with equal curiosity.