Jon and I decided to take advantage of the good weather recently and go on a walk around Chippenham just for the sake of a little exercise. We had no bags or litter pickers, just a desire to get moving.
However, the universe had other plans. It wasn’t long before we found a Tesco bag for life and started adding litter to it. It now comes with us on our evening walks, a compromise between kitting up for a full clean up and ignoring the rubbish along the roadways. What’s been interesting is the relative lack of litter we’ve found.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s still far more rubbish than I’d like to see. But, on average, we can fill the bag twice on a two-mile walk, stopping about halfway through to empty it in a bin. However, considering we used to find a full bin bag’s worth of rubbish (each!) in just half a mile from our house, this is definite progress. In particular, we seem to be finding far fewer cans and bottles than usual.
What has brought this change? I don’t have a definite answer, but there are a few possibilities:
- More people are picking up litter: If everyone just picked up a few pieces of rubbish when they were out and about, it would make a massive dent in the cleanliness of our communities. If you’ve been out cleaning recently, thank you!
- Summer (1): I have a theory that people may actually be less likely to litter in the summer because there is more daylight and therefore their behaviour is more visible. For all the litter I’ve picked up over the past five years, I can count the number of people I’ve actually seen litter on one hand.
- Summer (2): The other side of the seasonal coin: because there is more greenery, it is far harder to actually see the litter lurking in bushes. It’s possible that it just seems like there is less; we’ll have to wait until autumn to check if that’s the case!
- Actual behaviour change: While I’m not going to hold my breath, I am hopeful that some people may be changing their behaviour and dropping less litter.
Whatever the reason, I am not complaining!
This is the time of summer holidays and exotic getaways. Could you do me a favour? While you’re away, whether the UK or abroad, could you see what the litter situation is like in your chosen destination—is it pristine, grotty, or somewhere in between? What type of anti-litter interventions have you seen? Any fun bins? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I may include it in a future blog post.