17/09/2021 - Cotic x Trash Free Trails



That is the single word used to describe why an organisation like Trash Free Trails exists. A disconnection with yourself, nature and the planet is what leads to the spiralling litter problem we see all around us.

The act of reading this little piece shows that you’re more than likely already aware of the problems and quite probably upset at seeing the state of our trails & wild spaces. Trash Free Trails hope to reconnect people with the environment and therefore move us (and ultimately corporations) into practices that benefit nature and ourselves, rather than harm it.

Dom Ferris, the main instigator / pied piper / spark maker got in touch back in 2018 asking for support to raise awareness for his new idea “Trash Free Trails”. We hooked him up with a bike, a few contacts and left him be, to work out where the idea would take him. We’ve been hanging out in the wings of the organisation since then, helping out where we can, trying to find our place and work out how best to utilise our resources.

In 2020 Dom called to say he had started working with a teacher in Wakefield called Jo. Jo was piloting a scheme at her pupil referral unit; kids with a range of issues - difficulties with conventional learning, sometimes fragile home situations, a lack of decent role models and often anti-authoritarian behaviour. The 6 lessons held in the classroom and at Leeds Urban Bike park with a professional coach, aimed to (obviously) pick up a load of litter & single use plastic from the trails, give them some MTB skills and most importantly reconnect them with nature. This initiative is called the Trash Mob Academy and has been the most meaningful project I’ve [Baybutt] spent my time working on since joining Cotic. As part of Cotic’s involvement, I went to photograph some of the sessions and from the very first trip I realised they were onto something special. As adults we recognise the warm glow of doing a good deed - sometimes for purely selfish reasons of wanting to feel good in yourself (Responsible Hedonism) and most of the time, recognising a problem whether that be on a macro or global level, and wanting to change it for the greater good. Seeing that spark of inspiration & care manifest in someone right before your eyes is quite something. This was literally IT. The best day at school ever.

So with our involvement with TFT ratified, it’s opened the doors to a huge host of opportunities. In the last 12 months we’ve organised trail cleans at Greno, Parkwood & Bolehills, attended the State of our Trails summit in Anglesea, helped host the Trash Mob Academy tour where we travelled to trail spots around the UK promoting the format of the lesson plans to teachers and mentors, and worked on a film detailing the project to be premiered at bike night during Kendal Mountain Film Festival.

Last weekend I attended my first A-Team gathering where TFT organised a whole host of activities to bring together all the people who are directly responsible for creating, organising and nurturing the trail cleans and their associated projects. The creative & caring minds that Dom has accrued is phenomenal and working with such a group is both a privilege and a pleasure.

TFT has done some brilliant work in its short few years and there’s a lot more coming. Hopefully we’ll reach a point when organisations like this aren’t needed but connecting people with nature feels like a life-long mission, of which I’m more than glad to be a part of.

If you want any more information about the Trash Mob then have a look at this link and keep an eye out for the film coming soon.

Best day at school ever…

State of our trails base line study…

Join the Trash Mob…