Environment Agency Workday
Environment Agency Workday
It was Back to the environment agency headquarters at Lea Marston today, to construct the sculptures which are going to be on show outside their offices. I had the help of two members of their team to help with constructing the design. We began with the pallet shelving unit, which went together without a hitch and formed a sturdy and large shelving system, which is to become the shop front from my sketch book designs.
The large boxes took a little bit more juggling with, as the designs had to be modified to fit in with the materials that were to hand in the workshop and stores. The original design was to fit on a concrete pad, with the uprights inserted into the concrete, These plans changed so that the boxes have now been constructed with a pallet base, this has the advantage of using materials that were available and that they are moveable with a stack a truck and can be positioned at a later date. The downside is that the structures were more difficult to build, the uprights seemed very flimsy when they were secured to the pallets but were much stronger once the chicken wire was added. I was initially worried about the size issue of scaling down, but after seeing the first completed, it is still large enough to be seen from a distance and has the advantage that their position can be changed.
Whilst we were busy with the build six volunteers went to a spot on the lake side, to begin litter picking, after around two hours they delivered a flatbed lorry full of plastic bags containing many bottles and three bags of the more novel plastic items that had been collected. This created a problem in that I needed more of the non-plastic bottles to fill the underneath section of the boxes, so that they could be sealed, and the top section filled with the plastic bottles. The second issue was that the larger more novel plastic items, such as footballs, life rings, large plastic toys should have been arranged around the bottom layer to clearly display some of the items that had been removed from the water, but as they were going to be moved the items would be shaken together and so arranging them would be a pointless exercise.
The smaller items were carefully sorted through and contained numerous shoes, footballs, dog balls and the now much talked about rubber ducks. These items were arranged on the shelfing unit to gauge how much would fit and to begin selecting the pieces for the final display. After a quick lunch break the second load of plastic arrived, which had a much larger amount of the more novel plastics as well as several more bags of bottles As the plastic bottles sat in the plastic bin bags in the warmth of the sun, the contents of the bottles began to warm and to smell, I hadn’t expected the waste plastic to be pleasant, but the distinctly toilet smell was awful.
As I was sorting through the bags of the more unusual plastics, I came across a newt, which as a protected species had to be returned to the water, this newt was only a few mm in length and left me with several questions
How many newts could I have missed?
How many may be among the plastic bottles which had been tipped into the boxes?
If there were newts amongst the plastic, what other animal life might be amongst it?
But also, that despite all of the plastics in the environment of the lake, that this little newt had managed to survive and that gives me hope, that although humans have caused such damage, nature has a way of adapting and struggling through.
I would have liked to have logged the plastic collected looking at the different types and possibly brands of plastics that had been found, but the quantities that were collected were vast and it wouldn’t have been practical to count each individual item, but there were definite tends. Most of the plastic retrieved from the lake side was single use clear plastic bottles, next in line would be coloured single use plastic bottles, some brands who use certain colours really stand out, a blue bottle for cider, bright yellow and small orange, purple and red were obviously brands aimed at children
There were allot of footballs, we lost count at thirty and lots of the light plastic ball pit balls along with a few dog balls and one cricket ball, I can see how these can end up in the water courses, but what is more difficult to explain is the amount of small plastic toys, a dolls bottle, Bart Simpson, Lego bricks, a baby’s rattle, a selection of happy meal toys and more than twenty rubber ducks, how do these items get into our water ways, maybe it is not until we understand how they get there that we can prevent it happening. There was such a quantity of plastic novelties that the shelves are not large enough to hold them all and they will have to be washed and resorted before the shelves can be finished.
Because of delays and less people than expected the second box wasn’t completed on the day, but there is enough plastics to fill the second box and this will be finished on a further visit. The staff from the environment agency are going to move the box and shelves into position over the next few days, when I shall go back to reposition and sort the shop front and to add some labels and finish off the loose ends.
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