Attitude and acceptance

In our ‘throw away’ society, some people drop their litter on the ground even though a council rubbish bin might be only inches away. I joined the Lee Litteraction group to help remedy this situation and work towards an environment that we can all be proud of – when I see how clean other countries are it almost makes me feel ashamed of our streets.

I personally look after my local park, children’s playground and surrounding roads. Every citizen needs to be morally responsible – sadly not all children appear to be taught this important lesson; my grandchildren wouldn’t dream of chucking their rubbish on the ground. The most satisfying feeling of being a grandparent is seeing the values you put into your children being passed on to the next generation. A lot of young people seem unaware of the consequences of littering with regard to biodegrading times and the effect on wildlife.

Until littering is deemed socially unacceptable (as well as illegal) by the mass population we will always need volunteers to help keep our roads, open spaces and beaches clean and to fight the litter louts.

I find the work quite therapeutic – I once came home after a 2 hour pick after suggesting I might return in half that time, also if you think you will fill 1 bag you will probably fill 2 or more! I light-heatedly call it ‘my   community service without doing the crime’. Of course you have to be careful what and how you pick up the rubbish – safety has to be the primary concern.

I was recently successful in getting a bin placed on a local road where none existed before – at least it negates the excuse that there “were no bins around”.

We advertise events such as beach cleans on the internet, church newsletters and magazines and have tried to make businesses more pro-active by giving them free pickers and encouraging them to sponsor a bin. This dialogue has resulted in a fast-food company allowing some of their employees to swell our ranks on the last 2 beach cleans. We accept any help offered !

The neighbourhood beat PCSO [Police Community Support Officer] has encouraged the nearby primary school to support us – a recent cleanup brought in 20 young helpers. This is the ideal age to educate…. I feel councils need to do more to teach the kids and also highlight the benefits of recycling. Happily out efforts have been acknowledged by the Mayor, the Council and the general public – it’s gratifying that our contribution has helped to improve our environment. A few months ago I watched a lad open a chocolate bar and immediately throw the wrapper on the ground. I asked him how he thought the wrapper might get into the bin (which was only 10 yards away). To his credit he picked up the wrapper and put it in the bin, after which I thanked him. Conversely, I overheard a father telling his son that littering “kept a council worker employed” ! How do you deal with an attitude like that ?

In some states of America littering penalties are 1,000 dollars (approximately £640). Should we increase our fixed penalty from the current £80 – would this action have the desired effect ? In the US I see they advertise which groups have kept the highway clean – should we follow suit?

My pet hate is bagged dog waste thrown in the bushes. It’s the owners that are irresponsible, not the dogs; how on earth do they expect these items to decompose?

I recently cleared 2 local lanes near my golf club – a session which lasted over two and a half hours resulted in a bag full of general rubbish and another containing 158 cans which are now in my recycling wheelie bin – the only downside was that my wife wasn’t too happy I’d been out so long !

I realise that this work is an uphill struggle but anything that helps improve the look of our town has to be a success in itself. It seems to me that the key aspects are ATTITUDE and ACCEPTANCE.

David Ede (Lee Litteraction)

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