“It’s lurking in our cities and towns, countryside and coasts.  You cannot escape, it’s everywhere …”

This might sound like the tagline to a 1950s’ horror film, but it’s the unfortunate truth about litter in the UK today.  This was made all the more clear during a recent weekend away to the south coast of Devon.  It’s a beautiful area, perfect for taking in a bit of sun, sea, and sand.  But hidden behind the picture postcard facade?  Rubbish. 

Dropped along the pavement by walkers and holiday makers.  Dumped next to trails by those who cannot be bothered to dispose of things properly.  Washed up on the beach from all parts of the globe.  

What can we do about it? The first step is the easiest – pick it up!  Bin it. Recycle it. Make it our responsibility instead of someone else‘s.  What happens next is more difficult.  Litter and waste must be taken seriously: education programmes, targeted campaigns, deposit schemes, fines, and a more supportive “binfrastructure” are all things that can be utilised in an effort to stop litter before it happens.

Ultimately, cultural norms must shift to make behaviour such as littering, fly-tipping, and dog fouling socially unacceptable.  Littering is not a universal problem – other countries manage to keep their streets and countryside clean.  We must follow suit now, before this truly becomes a horror story.

Beautiful view from the top of Langstone Rock in Dawlish Warren … shame about the litter in the foreground.

This bin bag and associated rubbish was found to contain 55 cans of Foster’s, dumped along a popular trail to the seashore.

While we could take the Foster’s, this nearby couch or car seat was beyond our ability to shift.  

A plastic carrier bags caught in a tree is a common sight in the UK today, whether at the UK or elsewhere.

Extreme bag retrieval

Rubbish along the railway line was piling up.  Litter along the rails costs National Rail £2.5 million pounds a year, and will be the subject of a future blog entry.

Energy Gel has also become a common item of litter found in Chippenham, and I don’t understand how someone can take care of their body by running or cycling, then trash a public space by leaving rubbish behind.

The usual detritus one expects to find on a beach includes shells and sea weed, not cans and wrappers.  Going to the beach for a holiday this summer?  Have fun, stay safe, and please pick up the litter you see.


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