Litter, it is just rubbish!
There is so much talk on SM at the moment about rubbish and destruction of the countryside from all the visitors leaving rubbish, having bbq’s and causing damage. It is hard to work out why they do this. Why does it make it ok to do this? What has happened to our society to make this acceptable? I know it is not a recent thing and there has always been rubbish. I remember the street cleaners from when I was younger. They had a selection of brushes and dustpans on a little cart. They used to wander the streets and sweep and clean. You could give them your rubbish if you were eating crisps or a chocolate bar and they would put it in their bin. What happened to these guys, when did they stop? Which government cuts made them obsolete?
As we do not see people keeping the streets clean does it then make it more acceptable, or makes us less accountable for our littering actions. If we see the person who is then cleaning up our mess are we less likely to drop litter again in the future? We see the consequence of our actions. I remember being told by my parents that it was not right to drop litter, to ‘follow the country code’ and be respectful of where we were going and walking. Does this still not happen?
I sometimes post pictures of the litter I collect. It does make me mad to see so much stuff dropped in the areas I walk regularly, and I am know I am not alone in doing this. I don’t post every time I pick up stuff or that would just fill my timelines with pictures of rubbish. I want my posts to be positive, but sometimes I just feel I have to let people know what is going on and that it is not acceptable in my world. This area where I live is so beautiful, I love living here and feel very lucky that this is the case. I respect this area and other people who live and work here. I respect the wildlife and have loved seeing how things came to life this Spring. With the early stages of lockdown meaning less people in the area, nature seemed to rejoice and came out to see where we had all gone. It was the same everywhere, people were seeing all sorts of wildlife for the first time in many cases, in areas where animals and birds had not been seen before. It was wonderful to see this and be part of it.
We hoped it would be forever, people would change, they would rejoice in what was happening, we would all work harder to make our Earth a better place. To try and reverse the damage we have done and are still continuing to inflict on Mother Nature. A few weeks had shown us that things could change, it didn’t need to be destruction until catastrophic breakdown. I think that is why it has been so hard to see how people have reacted over the last few weeks. Nothing has changed, in fact things feel worse than before. Have people been locked away and now feel that it is their right to come and do what they want. We can behave in this way, we have been locked away and now we are going to make up for it. BBQ’s causing fires, mass gatherings on delicate areas, just leaving rubbish lying around without any thought of taking it home to dispose of. I have found shopping bags with BBQs, food cartons, drinks bottles and cans, condiments, plates, everything you need for a BBQ tea, just left. It is a bit like the Marie Celeste. They have just got up and walked away. Not even making the slightest effort to clear any of it away. When I come across this I have to look around. Maybe they have gone for pee somewhere, nipped back to the car to get more drinks, surely this is not how they have left it. Now I know differently. It is the case and it makes me sad. But it does make it easier if the carrier bag is still there. So if you are one of these people who leave rubbish and you are reading this then please leave the bag with all your crap!
What can be done? Surely most people see that this is not right. Even if they are not going to pick up others people rubbish (there are quiet a few of us who do this), they are going to try hard not to drop litter and will take it home with them. So how do we get the message to the ones who do it? Do we need the street sweepers back in the towns and cities. So people can see that people do have to pick up the rubbish. Do we need more bins in popular areas and people to empty them? There is definitely a lack of bins in some places, but people should be able to take their rubbish back with them. Do we need more ‘Rangers’ out and about in the these areas, being a presence and talking to people in a positive way, so they do want to take their stuff back with them. Give these ‘Rangers’ some help with enforcement, via pictures and tracing people and sending them fines - like a speeding or parking offence. TV ads - seen a few of the old ones come up on Facebook posts - update them and make them relevant to our world now. I know there are people trying to make a difference. Groups being set up on Social Media to litter pick, asking local businesses to stop selling disposable BBQ’s, trying to bring awareness to the issues. But how do you get the right people to see this information? My posts, and many of the ones I see, are preaching to the converted.
I hope things settle down and as the shops open, Entertainment parks open and there are more places available then people will not chose to come out into the countryside. The weather has been great but we could do with a bit of ‘normal’ weather to put people off. The day after Costa opened I found disposable cups, this made me so sad. For the littering but also for he waste - we had managed without take away cups for a few weeks, none had had to be made and none thrown away. If everyone took a picnic they made at home, took drinks in a bottle or flask they made at home, took all this back with them. Just think of the impact this alone would have on the environment. There has always been litter dropped and I have been collecting it for as long as I have been walking around up here. But the more people the more litter, goes without saying. I will continue to collect and will continue to try and bring awareness. Let’s hope more people get the message that littering is not acceptable and a change can happen. It will have an impact on many different levels. I really hope so and the animals will again come out to greet us.