Whose job is it? Musings on rubbish and responsibility

The question we are most frequently asked when out on a rubbish walk is “Are you doing that by choice or do you work for the Council?” The first time it happened I didn’t think anything of it: I explained how I got fed up seeing rubbish along the path I took to work, so decided to do something about it. After all, I can’t fill in a pothole, but I can pick up litter! But the more frequently it happened, the more I found the question puzzling. Because why does it matter who is doing it, volunteers or Council employees?

It’s not the Council who is causing the mess. It’s children who haven’t been taught not to litter, or people who simply don’t care or don’t think. It’s our friends, family members, and neighbours who can’t be bothered to find a bin. It’s the accidental litter caused by emptying kerbside rubbish and recycling bins. None of it may be caused by “us” – but we have to live with it. And, at present, I only see two options: we can grumble and moan about what a mess our streets are becoming and how somebody should do something about that. Or we can actually do something about it ourselves.

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