Concern raised over high amounts of litter in Cathays

Voluntary action group Environmental Champions have carried out surveys of streets in Cathays, finding worrying amounts of litter around student housing.

Environmental Champions carried out street quality index surveys in October and December of last year. Their results showed that 11 of the 12 streets studied contained litter.

A worrying 69 percent of this was deemed to be hazardous litter such as glass. Furthermore, only two bins were found in the area, both overflowing with litter, calling into question the council’s handling of this problem.

Chewing gum staining was the second most frequent culprit, with 82.5% of areas affected. The slow biodegradation time of chewing gum means that it is a nightmare for councils and environmental crusaders alike.

Around a quarter of sites recorded vandalism and graffiti, whilst damaged pavements came up as a concern in both studies, with 91 percent of streets affected in October, and 50 percent in December.

The streets were also graded in their overall quality, from A to E, with A being “very clean” and E being “totally unacceptable”. While no streets were found to merit an E in either study, 35% scored a D, and 82% were grade C or Below. The low quality of student areas causes concern over health and safety as well as for the environment.

Environmental Champions carry out work on action-based initiatives in Cardiff to both deal with sustainability issues and raise environmental awareness. Their activities range from waste and recycling to environmental action – including river clean ups and engaging in green policing – amongst many more activities. The study is the result of a partnership between the student service Cardiff Digs and the Cardiff University group Student Volunteer Cardiff as well as Keep Cardiff Tidy.

This is not the first time Cathays has come under scrutiny for the cleanliness of its streets. In 2010 one Cardiff resident described their experience of the area as “like living in a slum.”

This is not the first survey implicating student areas in environmental failures. Theodore Dalrymple of The Telegraph said  – of  the streets near Manchester’s universities – that “I do not recall a filthier street anywhere, and I have visited more than 80 countries”.

Keep Britain Tidy found that the cost of cleaning the 30 million tonnes of litter abandoned on British streets each year is around £885 million pounds. Questions have to be asked about students’ environmentally damaging habits, and whether enough is being done to keep our streets clean.

Jack Telford