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We've received several emails, phone calls and responses on our Facebook page to last week's leader in which I asked what we can do to prevent people from leaving their rubbish around our public spaces, for others to clear up. I and most of those I've spoken with, agree with Steve Sinnott's (Heritage Tiling & Restoration) view that lack of discipline, a poor upbringing and selfishness are largely to blame, and I chuckled at Steve's idea that a stun gun might improve things - many have had similar thoughts! Some expressed that while on-the-spot fines are good, the chance of catching culprits is low. Others complained that over-zealous litter wardens have damaged support for such schemes, referring to widely publicised incidents such as the woman fined for losing a thread from a glove, and others who've accidently dropped items and been fined before they've had a chance to retrieve them, such as the arthritic man who dropped his £10 note change from a purchase along with his receipt.
The Domestic Cleaning Alliance's Stephen Munton said that one argument he's heard (but clearly doesn't agree with), is that as the venue has already budgeted for litter pickers, it's become somebody else's job and why should anybody else do it? I've come across that one myself, and some of those supporting this idea were so vehement in their arguments that the discussion became pretty aggressive.
My leader was prompted by my dismay at the litter left at festivals, where those whose job it is to collect and sort it, tend to be volunteers who use their 'working' status to attend the event because they can't afford a ticket. Many festival-goers are aware of this volunteer status and know that litter pickers are effectively kindred spirits - but don't care either way. That saddens me.
One suggestion that came up in most conversations was the need to educate people from an early stage that littering is wrong and that we all need to take ownership of the problem and our environment.
I love Wychavon District Council's and its waste & recycling partner FCC Environment's competition for residents to name each of the 15 new waste and recycling trucks which will take to the roads next month. What better way to bring our attention to the problem of littering and the need to recycle wherever possible than to get everyone involved like this! I do hope other councils follow suit...
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13th September 2018