The Big Tengnagel Litter Project

The Tengnagel is a narrow headland, just 700 metres long, situated in the Kagerplassen, close to Leiden in the Netherlands. The circumference is one and a half kilometres (close to a mile), the watersides consist of basalt. 30 July 2017 I started to remove all litter washed ashore. Since then I’m repeating these sessions every so many weeks to get an impression of the influx of new garbage and whether the amount decreases over time. On this page are the results of each session, including pictures. Provisional conclusion: regular removal of all litter does not induce a decrease of the amount of litter. However, I may intercept garbage that would normally end up in sea.

Clearing session 1 – 30 July 2017

Picking litter along 770 metres, including 29 plastic bottles (one every 27 metres), soda cans, glass (wine) bottles, a garbage bin and a load of all kinds of foil, plastic bags, crisp bags, plastic packaging and so on. Also a lifebuoy in pieces.

Click to enlarge. If you want the original picture, please e-mail me! No copyright on any of the pictures. Please share.

Clearing session 2 – 11 September 2017

I collected roughly twice the amount of the first session. This time I also scoured the south-eastern side of the peninsula. Today, the aforementioned 770 metres had at least the same amount as last time.

Clearing session 3 – 24 September 2017

Less than two weeks after the last session I walked the full circumference again, this time accompanied by Hester, my wife. No decrease in amount, despite the rather thorough action of 11 September.

Clearing session 4 – 14 October 2017

This time even a larger amount than last time. Makes you wonder. What if I wouldn’t do anything? Would the volume of garbage increase? Or would it blow back into the water and end up in the sea? Since the volume is more or less constant ever since the very first session this scenario seems not unlikely. It would mean that interception of litter indeed lessens the volumes that are transported to sea.

Anyway, we just keep monitoring the Tengnagel. It seems that the waste is getting older, has been in the water for a longer time. This may indicate that more recent dumped litter is largely intercepted in previous sessions. Stuff that has been lying around in the surroundings for a longer time now seems to be more common.

Indeed, it all depends on the season, the weather, wind direction. The accretion will probably be less during winter, because there are fewer boats with people throwing their mess in the water.

Clearing session 5 – 28 Oktober 2017

Just two weeks after the last session another Tengnagel round. Apparently the litter of the Leidse 3 October Festival has arrived… 138 disposable cups that honour their name. 91 are Heineken, 28 have no print, eight from Grolsch, seven from Jupiler, one Brand, one Viteau, one Kornuit and one Bavaria. Apart from the shocking number of plastic cups also numerous other artefacts, including a 3D print from Madurodam (Miniature City in Scheveningen).

Clearing session 6 – 13 November 2017

Clearly less litter this time, not even enough to fill a garbage bag. However, I do not take the full bag into account I found along the shore. The loose stuff appears to have been in the water for some time. Makes sense, because less trash is thrown overboard due to the lack of boats this time of year. Again a lot of plastic cups, Heineken being most common with 33 disposables.

Clearing session 7 – 3 December 2017

Large yield of especially foils, like chips bags, plastic bags and sheets. A lot of floating debris that has been in the water for some time, including a significant number of disposable cups. 15 Heineken, 6 Grolsch, 6 Jupiler, 1 Kornuit and 7 without print. The amount is decreasing, which makes sense since all cups are coming from the Leidse 3 Oktober festivities.

Clearing session 8 – 26 December 2017

The last session of 2017 gives a relatively small yield of litter. Part of it is probably trash that was already there, but hidden from view by summer vegetation. This time the number of disposable cups was limited to 14.

Clearing session 9 – 7 January 2018

The absence of recreation is noticeable, the downward trend of the volume of litter carries on. This time we managed to get only half a garbage bag full.

Clearing session 10 – 25 January 2018

The garbage of the Christmas market in Leiden seems to have arrived, seeing the many recent disposables. Recent, because still clean and not covered in algae. It seems to have travelled from the centre of Leiden in the last couple of weeks to end up here and probably elsewhere in the area. Still, there’s also a lot of stuff that has been in the water for a long time, gotten adrift after the heavy storm of 18 January. Among the litter a lot of disposable cups. Today a record amount of rubbish, a total of more than two full garbage bags, large objects not included. Concerning those objects: they’re not only large, but also weird. See the pictures!