Ian Humphreys Mon 30 Jul 2018
There seems to be a growing disparity between those who care about where we live, and a minority of people that quite literally couldn't care less. The few whose littering is on daily display are a disgrace and an embarrassment. Visitors to our beautiful part of the world leave confused and bewildered. Such a welcoming friendly place, beautiful scenery, treated like a giant dustbin.
Do the litterers have no conscience? Do they not realise their own children will have to live with the after effects, with plastic in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat?
Dense accumulations of litter lying in our verges, floating down our rivers and washing up around our shores. This is what we now see and expect to see. It reflects on the whole of our society; that we have allowed this to happen. There is no benefit in blaming others, in shirking our personal responsibilities to help maintain the standards we expect. Can we challenge the environmental incivilities and anti-social behaviours we see? Do we have the courage (yes, safely) to ask someone to pick up their litter? Would we even support the council by reporting in incidents of littering – easily done when from vehicles – so that fines can be issued?
No other body invests more or employs the army of staff to remove our daily dump of litter, than Councils. Yet here too more can be done. The postcode lottery for fines must end; fines must be greater; staff shifts should match the times when offences are taking place (dog fouling particularly needs different patterns of working); and other government bodies need to take litter as seriously as Councils do.
Businesses have to accept not only that a proportion of the wrapping used to sell their confectionery, cigarettes or drinks is ending up as litter but also that they have a responsibility to tackle this issue too, in a way and on a scale not yet seen.
Pointing the finger of blame in a different direction is just an excuse not to do anything, which is an implicit acceptance of how things are now. This situation is unbearable for many people – to see our country being trashed by a thoughtless minority. If we really want it to change then the finger pointing has to stop and we all have to just start investing more time, money and effort in changing what we can within ourselves and our organisations, and into making the position on littering behaviour clear to all our stakeholders. No more excuses.
I heard a case of a triathlete being disqualified (given a ‘did not finish’ result) after being seen throwing his water bottle over a hedge. A rare case of taking this issue seriously enough. We probably already have disciplinary rules that prohibit the bringing of our organisations into disrepute. What if we explicitly brought in and communicated a statement that ties littering behaviour into such policies and procedures?
Just a thought.