Thursday 16 December 2021


 There is a really interesting item in today's Times about litter and rubbish left around on our streets and how distressing this is to some of us and how others can happily walk past it every day and hardly notice it.   I suppose it is just another aspect of how some of us are fanatically neat and tidy and others are happy to let things stay where they are inside our houses.  

But Janice Turner in today's Notebook speaks of one particular mattress - a double one, which had been 'abandoned on a grass verge outside a block of flats' where it stayed for a long time getting wetter, dirtier, more difficult to move and making the whole area seem more neglected.   She passed it every day - as must thousands of others have done.   But nobody moved it.   No council rubbish lorry stopped and collected it, no individual dragged it to the place designated as the area to dump the rubbish from the flats.

And so on a dismal, damp, darkish afternoon she decided to take the law into her own hands and drag the wretched thing - thick with slugs on the back - the one hundred metres or so to the council tipping space herself.   The next day it had gone.

She says, "This is the most rewarding thing I have done all week."   And as a result of that and reading David Sedaris's Book 'A Carnival of Snackery' which is about how he is obsessed with clearing away other peoples' rubbish to make the countryside more attractive she has put a litter-picker stick on her Christmas list this year.   What a brilliant idea!

The whole idea of rubbish is such an annoying one and makes such a difference to our countryside apart from often becoming dangerous and even fatal to wild life.   Living on a housing estate as I do now - albeit an attractive and sought-after place to live- it is astonishing how much rubbish accumulates - plastic bottle here (either thrown there by somebody or dropped accidentally from a rubbish bin on collecting day) or maybe just a milk bottle top which can lie in the gutter for weeks, or a crisp packet which blows out of the collecting bag on recyclng day - but as Priscilla and I walk round I often notice these things for weeks.   And before you ask why I don't pick them up myself I will remind you that I just cannot bend down without falling over.

Does it matter that in the giant scheme of things a green plastic milk-bottle top lies in the gutter outside my bungalow and has done for the last month, or that a crisp packet blows up and down the road and has done for some time (it is a good indication of which way the wind is blowing)?


Gerry Snape said...

I love this Pat!...we regularly pick up the tipped rubbish from the alley at the back of the yard in Morecambe...recently it became so filthy I contacted the local has all been removed.

Terra said...

I so relate to this post Pat. I walk my dog twice a day to the ocean and when younger, I simply had to bend down and pick up plastic litter. The street drains in my neighborhood are clearly labeled: no dumping, goes straight to ocean. I hate thinking of sea creatures eating plastic! Now that I no longer can pick up garbage easily, I am concerned at all the healthy young people jogging and walking and running who go right past the garbage.

Debby said...

I know a very quiet man who walks every where and always carries a while bag to pick up the trash he finds.

Sue in Suffolk said...

At the moment there's some very annoying rubbish dumped from a car about a mile from home, trouble is it's on a bit of busy road near a corner so not the best place to retrieve it.
Years ago The Country Code was one of the things we did with the Cub Scouts - I doubt it's still included in their badge work now although I hope i'm wrong.

Rachel Phillips said...

Given the demographic of your readers it is a question that hardly needs to be asked. Of course it matters.

Melinda from Ontario said...

Your post reminded of a lesson my dog taught me years ago. A wild rabbit had been struck and killed on my street. In no time, the poor rabbit's body was flattened by car tires. I kept hoping one of my neighbour's would deal with it. No one did! A few days later my dog slipped out the front door and began cavorting up and down the street, ignoring my calls for him to return. He spied that flattened bunny, managed to pull it off the street, and joyously returned it to me, dropping it at my feet. I was now forced to give the poor bunny a proper burial. I got my comeuppance that day.

Ellen D. said...

Yes, it matters. I like the idea of carrying a grabbing tool and a bag so I wouldn't have to touch the garbage. Good idea!

Derek Faulkner said...

It matters indeed Pat. Here where I live, two retired people, miles apart from each other, have taken it upon themselves to walk their neighbourhoods a couple of times a week and pick up litter - a job that council road sweepers used to do.

the veg artist said...

I really do not understand people who can leave any rubbish behind them at all. It has been a huge problem in Wales over the last summer when visitors, who might ordinarily have holidayed elsewhere, descended on us, and left much of their rubbish behind. The photos of places like Snowdonia are enough to make you weep, and I imagine that the Yorkshire Dales suffered in much the same way.
In 2001 Wales was, I think, the first region to start charging for single-use plastic bags in supermarkets and the like. It did not take long to notice that there were no longer bags waving from hedges and trees, blown there by strong winds. The countryside became cleaner. Hitting people in their purses obviously had more impact than just asking nicely.

Tasker Dunham said...

We've helped with local litter picks. It's beyond understanding what some people throw on to the roadside through their car windows.

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Heather said...

I think we must be a mucky nation, and fly tipping is a pastime for some. I have noticed that crows and seagulls are also guilty. There are quite a few of both species locally and they raid litter bins scattering the contents all over the place.

angryparsnip said...

I think some people were raised ? or not to not care.
Someone else will do it and not care I really don't believe what what I see.

Susan said...

Litter does take away from our landscapes. Sadly, not everybody cares. At one time, there were fines for littering. The signs used to be posted on roadways. The signs have been gone for a number of years.

The Furry Gnome said...

We had an extremely windy day here and stuff was blowing out of the recycling boxes all over the place! I figure a year's collection of litter gets blown about in one day like today!

ellie k said...

We have the same trash problems, people throw all sorts of things beside the roads. I think Germany was the cleanest place I have ever visited. People sweep the side walks and some even sweep the roads in front of their house. I saw people stop and pick up a piece of paper on the streets. Here in Florida even the waterways are littered with trash. Thank you for the interesting articles you write about your life. I do enjoy them.

Red said...

The crisp packet blowing in the wind is a good indication where society is going.

Cro Magnon said...

In some of the poorer areas of Africa or The Middle East, rubbish is so thick on the ground that people literally have to make their way around it. I would have thought that the simplest way to make one's life more pleasant would be to clean around one's own home; even if it's just a tiny shack.

Penny said...

We walk on our local beach most mornings. Here it is not so much rubbish but broken glass. It is amazing how much we manage to pick up.

Jules said...

I've never understood why people dump rubbish intentionally.

Librarian said...

For the second time in a row, I find myself commeting right after Jules, and saying "same as Jules" - I've never understood that, either.

Here, rubbish has become more of a problem since the start of the pandemic. Our town council says that the communal bin collectors and cleaners have been working extra hours for the past 1 1/2 years but still aren't really on top of things. Unable to go to restaurants during lockdown, more and more people have begun to pick up takeaway food and eat it outdoors, at some "nice spot" which then becomes anything but nice thanks to them leaving their rubbish behind. Public bins are overflowing, and there are masks, masks, masks everywhere on the ground. Apart from being ugly and annoying, this is also a health hazard to humans and animals alike.

Jennyff said...

We particularly hate the litter situation in Italy, even our little track is strewn with bottles and cartons which we collect and bring home. We've even had people bring their garden waste and dump it near our house which is crazy as there is a recycle and refuse centre in the village. If the refuse collectors spill anything they just leave it and would never pick up any litter they see when collecting. To me it shows total disrespect for other people and the environment.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for so many interesting replies seems we all have the same problems.

Rachel Phillips said...

Throwing litter on to the ground is a way of life in Morocco. Even outside their own doorways small black plastic sacks of litter are deposited to be picked up hopefully one day by the hand-drawn litter carts but before that to be opened and dissected by the street cats. Dead cats lay in the dust in the back streets of Fez and Marrakech and are stepped over by everyone. I once wrote a poem about the dead cats of Marrakech that nobody takes a blind bit of notice of. Litter is everywhere in Africa and when it rains it gets washed into the drains and out into the sea. Ghana is the biggest user of our secondhand clothing in the world and it gets washed into the drains in the monsoon rains and ends up in the sea.

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