A View from Gosport

When I talk to people, observe people, read articles or watch documentaries regarding litter and climate change to me they are intrinsically linked and, unless any government or local council does not understand this, I believe we will never achieve the goals most of us want.

Recently, I was watching a programme on BBC1 Tuesday 19 Feb called “Litter Wars”. One courageous woman was trying to keep her town and area clean by politely telling people that when they drop litter it was the wrong thing to do. The documentary went on to show some other people who were calling her a busybody and should not be telling people what to do. I remember when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister she was so appalled at the amount of rubbish she had seen travelling back from Heathrow to Downing Streetthat she headed a campaign against litter. Our leader was actually showing us how to pick the stuff up all neatly displayed in a beautiful Londonpark. Great I thought, this is the head of the country against litter, a change is gonna come. Well no, I cannot say it has got any worse but, I can say, there has certainly been no revolutionary change – litter as normal so to speak.

There are countless voluntary litter pick groups, organisations and endless campaigns all aimed at getting us to keep our environment clean of rubbish, but who is the target audience for these well meaning campaigns? Is it the person seen on the same documentary proudly extolling his freedom to flick his cigarette butt wherever he wants to ? I think not. Or the people who think that telling a fellow citizen that it is wrong to discard their waste in the street, again, I think not. I believe the feckless, ignorant and the lazy is the target audience but they are not the sort of people to be swayed by cosy articles of well meaning folk who continually clean up after them. 

Is there any hope? Well there are 15 councils who have in my opinion decided to really tackle the issue and employ a company called “Xfor”. To date they have issued nearly 64,000 tickets making themselves £45 for each fine along the way. At last a positive move, I embrace this approach but again there have been complaints about the wardens being overzealous or ignoring pleas of “it was only a cotton bud”. It is obvious that some people have no sense of pride within our communities. They do not notice or care about the litter and graffiti that surrounds them or the seas we pollute, for them global warming is just a nice warm fire. Politicians love to say how much they support the prevention of climate change but what is the point? We could save millions of pounds if we just do what we are supposed to do, dispose of all waste in the correct manner – politicians, just make it happen? 

I also caught part of a programme shown on BBC2 News Night, another snap shot of the problem we are facing. It featured the results of plastic found inSouthamptonwater after a small drone had been dragged for about 10 minutes. Yes, the amounts were small but it was explained how long the environment takes to break plastics down, as opposed to other types of litter. The attention was then turned to the people who manufacture plastic for our drink bottles etc. As the spokesperson pointed out, there is nothing wrong with plastic, we want it back, we want to recycle it and so we can use it again. He did not spell out the obvious but I will – it is people who are polluting the sea and the planet, we are the polluters whether it is a drink can, cigarette filter or industrial waste – it is all gut-retching stuff that does not belong in our seas.

 When I moved toGosportjust over a year ago, I joined the local community group, I litter picked, I also started a local litterpick group and I regularly clean up my own area. I have even reported people for throwing a television into the nearby lake – this involved the police and the local MP. I have hauled items out of the lake, I have been doing what I can when I can. However, I have now reached the point that I am going into semi retirement regarding litter action. I am not doing more than my own immediate area unless I see some form of government, big or small, that will tackle the problem head on. Namely against the relatively small amount of people who are continually creating the rubbish we have to live within our society.  

Just a final note, as I look out of my window I can see a discarded plastic bottle on the grass verge – part of the area that I had cleaned up yesterday ..

Richard Gowen


  1. Thank you so very much for your lovely comments it was much appreciated to be thought of as nicely as that by you. Graham Smith kindly sent me this link… so blessings on you both….

  2. It is exactly for the reasons that you outline that our organisation was formed; that for too long too little has been done to tackle a problem of littering and the people responsible for it.

    Our aim is to raise the temperature on this issue; to make it clear that it blights the lives of many, is a daily drain on morale, is an unnecessary cost to society and seriously messes up both the built and natural environment.

    We also need to make it a higher priority for Government and those with statutory obligations to tackle the problem and its consequences.

    Unfortunately, clearing the existing and ongoing mess created by litterers has got to be a part of the solution but it is not the answer because otherwise, as you say, the responsible majority will be cleaning up after the feckless few forever!

    So don’t give up and if you have energy and time to spare throw it our way.

  3. I think that our national and local governments are demonstrating a complacency about the degradation of our environment. The recent response to the Marine Conservation Society and others call for Marine Conservation Zones is another example of this.
    It is time for all of us that care to be lobbying our MP’s ; Councillors and Council Officers to take firmer action to tackle all the issues facing us.

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