The CairnGorm, Nevis Range and Glenshee ski resorts in Scotland are hosting their fifth annual The Big Spring Clean this Saturday 16 June 2012.
The aim of the event is to clear the litter discarded on and off the slopes during the winter ski season by skiers picnicking, smoking or commonly dropping items from chairlifts. Organised by the Ski Club of Great Britain, volunteers scour the resorts removing the litter and the more volunteers the merrier! Rubbish including cigarette butts, chocolate wrappers, banana skins, plastic bottles and clothing appear across the mountains in the springtime once the snow has melted.
Elsewhere, officials in Val Thorens have estimated that a staggering 30,000 cigarette butts are dropped carelessly under each chair lift during the season.
This littering problem pollutes the rivers, streams and the ground which subsequently endangers wildlife and plants. Toxins from the cigarette butts act as an insecticide that is poisonous. Dioxins from plastic containers damage the reproduction on fish and mammals. Therefore the importance of eliminating this litter is great.
Commonly dropped items can take years to decompose:
Glass bottle: 4000 years
Plastic bottle: 100 to 1000 years
Aluminum can: 100 to 500 years
Packaging paper: 100 to 450 years
Paper from lift pass: 100 to 450 years
Cigarette butt: 2 to 15 years
Bubble/chewing gum: 2 to 5 years
Fruit peel: 6 months
(Information courtesy of Mountain Riders)
Similar clean up events also take place in resorts across Europe. Mountain Riders organises litter collections throughout the summer months across 75 resorts in the Alps involving the local communities.
In Scotland, volunteers are meeting on Saturday at 10.00am at the base of one of the three ski areas and will be provided with gloves and litter bags. With every bag filled volunteers are rewarded with free tea and cakes!
In 2011′s event, 44 sacks of rubbish were collected by volunteers of all ages. That’s a lot of rubbish, cups of tea and cake! As well as the usual litter, the volunteers also found rather oddly a bed mattress and apparantly a ‘message in a balloon’!
To volunteer, contact the Ski Club of Great Britain at http://www.skiclub.co.uk/