The curious case of the molehill and the litterbug

Tolerance is all well and good in society but Britain has a problem. It’s rubbish. Literally. I believe the nation should crack down on littering and do more to punish litterbugs.

Says Stuart Forster in this comment piece for Manned Up.

Is littering a growing problem or am I just noticing more rubbish on the nation’s streets at present?

Maybe it’s caused by spring winds lifting litter and carrying cans, bottles and packaging to places where those items don’t belong? But I suspect that’s being too kind to the antisocial types who are simply too downright lazy to carry empty packaging for the couple of minutes it would take to reach the next rubbish bin.

Dumping plastic bottles and bags may mean they are washed into the world's oceans.

Dumping plastic bottles and bags may mean they are washed into the world’s oceans.

Dumping rubbish in the streets

Walking through a British city centre recently I saw a woman waddle out of a fast food shop, remove the pasty she bought from a paper bag and discard the packaging onto the ground less than ten paces from a litter bin. The additional effort required to dispose of the rubbish properly would have been minimal. How ignorant is that behaviour? How irresponsible? Why are people like that not punished for littering?

Irresponsible use of resources and litter disposal has global impact.

Irresponsible use of resources and litter disposal have global impact.

Environmentalists call on fast food companies and café chains to take steps to reduce the volume of packaging and to consider the environmental impact of the materials being used. Maximising the amount of recycled and recyclable materials is admirable. But if people do not dispose of the packaging properly then those initiatives have limited impact.

The feeding behaviour of animals and birds may be impacted by irresponsible litter disposal.

The feeding behaviour of animals and birds may be impacted by irresponsible litter disposal.

Dispose of litter properly

Why can’t more be done to educate people about the importance of orderly little disposal? Swirling islands of rubbish pollute the world’s oceans, poisoning sea life and entering the food chain that we, as humans, will eventually consume. Litterbugs are, you can conclude logically, poisoning society.

It disgusts me to see items such as beer cans, sandwich packaging and plastic bottles strewn alongside footpaths. It’s repulsive enough when they are lying on streets in urban areas. It angers me when I see litter left in the countryside.

What kind of ignorant fool dumps litter in the countryside?

What kind of ignorant fool dumps litter in the countryside?

Why on earth do people head out into the countryside and leave packaging from picnics and drinks behind? They carried their snacks into the rural landscape and consumed them, why can’t they carry the waste out? The individuals responsible must have had a bag to bring those items, so why not pack them up and take them away? If people brought them in a vehicle, how difficult would it to be take the packaging away?

Seals at the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, could be among creatures affected by micro-plastics entering the food chain.

Seals at the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, could be among creatures affected by micro-plastics entering the food chain.

Dodgy people don’t pick up doggy droppings

And don’t even start me on those people who pick up their dog’s faecal matter in little black bags, tie them with a neat bow then discard them on the street. Whoever does that within walking distance of where I live is building little stockpiles of half-filled bags in a couple of spots. How can they even begin to think that’s acceptable.

On a recent training run I was injured by discarded litter. An empty aluminium can lay on the far side of a molehill. I’d like to say that I hurdled the molehill but, in reality, it was more of an inelegant hop. Putting my foot down on the far side resulted in me treading on the can, which I hadn’t spotted, due to the pile of earth left by the mole.

Consequently, I twisted my ankle. It’s painful. The circumstances were unusual but in no way do I hold the mole who built that hill responsible.

If a driver had thrown a can out of their moving vehicle and injured me then perhaps criminal proceedings for assault would have resulted? What, ultimately, is the difference when an individual causes an injury by discarding litter on a street?

Do you know how much discarded rubbish ends up in the sea?

Do you know how much discarded rubbish ends up in the sea?

Please keep Britain tidy!

Here’s a link to the Keep Britain Tidy website.

Photos illustrating this feature are by Stuart Forster of Why Eye Photography, a Sunderland-based photography company specialising in event and food photography plus portraiture and travel imagery.

The sun with a watery hue.

The sun with a watery hue.

One Comment

  1. Edward George says:

    Well said! I support every comment you make. Councils will say they are short of money so can’t clean up.

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