We all know the pitfalls and perils of the plastic problem; it’s globally plaguing the world.
We are overrun with plastics, but equally what some people don’t look at is that we are overrun with rubbish as well, litter, refuse, scrap, debris, dross and whatever other terms we can find that describe the issues we have with discarded goods and waste products.I say this because someone recently said to me, “Well it’s only plastic that’s the major problem isn’t it?”
“No, it’s not just that, which is bad enough by itself, it’s the garbage that society throws away in this disposable world we live in as well. People don’t seemingly care anymore, they just throw away everything, and not always in the right places!”
It will take us years upon years to clean up our act; too much damage has already been done, we are becoming a society of people’s who apparently never give a second thought to how we offload what we don’t want anymore and leave it for someone else to tidy up after us.
I live in a coastal village, we are not a town, but we have around 800 households, we are not really a true rural village, more of an urban village, just outside of Deal, in Kent. We are bigger than a hamlet. However, it doesn’t really matter what size we are, because the litter we have here is as bad as the town of Deal, or would be if it wasn’t for the diligence of litter pickers.
We are not a tourist spot per se, but we do have a large seasonal traffic from the months of March through to October every year because of the rural walking and rambling, the golf club, the small beach which connects to Walmer, some nice pubs, the large camp site and the holiday village and of course one mustn’t forget the residents of the village themselves.
The villages of Kingsdown and St Margaret’s sit in-between Dover a coastal town at one end and Deal at the other. We are around 40 minutes away from the city of Canterbury, and yet despite neither of the two villages being tourist spots we do see during the season, extremely high visitor traffic which can number in the thousands.
During the off season periods of November to end February, whilst the village itself is quieter and the visitor traffic is slower we still see large numbers of walkers and cyclers coming through.
Recently l read in the village monthly booklet, that two of the local parish council litter pickers were being sacked, because the council decided the money could be better used elsewhere. They were long serving to this village, and had been for ten years, and whilst they didn’t earn a huge amount of money [£1100 per annum] for the minimum of 2 days per week at a minimum of 8 hours a day, they alongside a couple of volunteers managed to keep the village tidy.
Their contract will end in March of this year, and this of course has upset the local residents immensely because they alongside myself and my partner know only too well how quickly rubbish builds up when nothing is being done. The Parish council has decided that volunteers alone will attend to the litter, and yet has made no plans what so ever in taking steps to actually organize anything.
My partner and l upon reading this distressing news, found ourselves only the next day on our morning dog walk, talking with one of the volunteers who we happened across along one of the quieter roads performing her civic duty in litter picking.
As l have aged l have become more concerned with the state of our planet, of our countryside, of the earth as a whole and as l say sometimes in my advertising spiel, there is no Plan[et] B, so it is down to us to ensure that the planet we have is kept tidy, and we must all do out bit.
Can you imagine if every single person actually did their bit? Each time someone ventured outside their house to enjoy a walk, or the countryside and they each took a bag with them and collected just one bag of trash, what a difference that alone would make?
Programmes like Blue Planet 2, hosted by David Attenborough have helped enormously raising the much needed awareness to the plights our planet faces, and of course this awareness has promoted the negative aspect of the plastic pollution we face each and every day and of course the uttermost damage we are causing to our wildlife, nature and life in general.
Great! People are more aware and yet still every second of everyday people continue to drop litter and discard waste like it doesn’t matter. Suze and l, decided that we would do our bit, and so every day this last week since meeting the volunteer litter picker on Tuesday we have gone out with a large plastic bag and picked up litter during the dog walking.
My Aspergian mind always keen on counting has mentally logged the volumes of rubbish we have collected since we started.
07/02 – Wednesday Morning – 37 pieces
08/02 – Thursday Morning – 45 pieces
09/02 – Friday Morning – 39 pieces
10/02 – Saturday Morning – 53 pieces
So in 4 days at roughly 45 minutes a walk the two of us have collected from a variety of routes a total of 174 separate pieces of rubbish, and l can say that 30% of that rubbish was picked up outside residential homes? So whilst so called caring residents complain about the sad and sorry state of rubbish in their village, perhaps they too should look closer to home and not just the state of public rural paths.
One of the biggest banes of my life and an insult to me as a caring and responsible dog owner is the behaviour of fellow dog walkers who care not for picking up the poo from their own animals. Many will cry and have done that if their dog is off-lead then they cannot follow them into the shrubbery and whilst l will not disagree with this, this is no excuse for not collecting up after the dogs if they are off lead but walk in front of you or even dogs who like my own on lead. But people don’t, in fact many don’t even consider this to be a waste issue they need to worry about?
Dog faeces are harmful to children and members of the public, it contains bacteria and the biggest health risk is toxocariasis which is an infection of the round worm. I am oft baffled by these so called caring dog owners and their negligence.
Dog shit is still litter.
Worse than that is when dog owners actually bag the dog poop, but instead of carrying it to a bin, they simply drop the bag on the ground on the supposed premise of picking it up again on their return trek, and seemingly forget that bag they left for collection, so it stays on the ground until it gradually rots away – providing of course it is in a biodegradable bag to begin with. Others still think it amusing to celebrate doggy Christmas each day and throw their bags into shrubs, bushes and trees so that we see trees with small doggy bags hanging like abandoned decorations?
People defy logic it is that simple, the lack of logical mentality is beyond me at times – l don’t get it?
Suze and l as l have said have in 4 mornings or 3 hours collected 174 pieces of rubbish from pathways, outside houses and rural roadways and the actual range of rubbish varies as well; crisp packets, beer cans, plastic bottles, cigarette packets, sweet wrappers, straws, cardboard, metal, and the list goes on, however we are in February, the off-season, in just over a months’ time we will be at the start of the in-season and then the rubbish will really start to pile high.
I am astonished at the attitude of the general public in many ways, in some cases many people are litter conscious and throw away their rubbish correctly but many more will not. Their attitude is ‘Why should l pick up another persons’ garbage, even if just to take it twenty yards to a bin?’ “It’s not mine, so not my problem!”
Has pride disappeared from people, do they care so very little for the way things are becoming?
Yet, here l am asking these questions of people, but pride starts from the top equally as much as it does from the bottom or the middle. The amount of times l have seen filled to the hilt local council bins, over flowing with rubbish, where society has tried to be responsible only to be horribly let down by the authorities, this same error can be seen in overfilling dog poop bins/
We all have to do something, all of us, our planet isn’t getting bigger, but if we continue to drop litter like tomorrow doesn’t exist it will just get smaller every day.
So now Suze and l are going to be volunteer litter pickers for our village, and before any one cries out, ‘How crazy is that?’ Ask yourself this one little question, who is worse, the person who drops the litter in the first place without a concern for anyone or anything, or the person who cares about the state of the environment and picks it up?
We all need to tread more carefully folks, we need to adopt a much healthier mode of green thinking if we ever hope to achieve a much reduced carbon footprint.
Because this just happens naturally doesn’t it?