I have been out walking and enjoying the Spring sunshine and the new growth of everything in the country. Sadly, part of that growth is in the amount of litter to be seen everywhere.
When I was a child my mother impressed upon me the importance of not dropping litter ‘Put it in your pocket and take it home,’ was the inevitable command after I had consumed a sweet and was left with the empty wrapper. This was the 1950s. Post-war austerity prevailed and Britain and the world were trying to return to as normal a state of affairs as possible and a sense of order. Whether that had anything to do with that sense of tidiness my mother fostered, I have no idea, but it is a teaching that has stayed with me all my life. It is common sense. Why throw rubbish onto the street or into the public environment, when it can just as easily be disposed of into a bin or taken home? What prompts someone to casually toss a can, bag or Styrofoam box onto the pavement or into a field without a second thought? Laziness? Ignorance? A contempt for society in general?
I remember at school admonishing one of my friends (we are still friends now sixty years on) for dropping a chocolate wrapper in the street. His response was that it provided work for the street cleaners. I know his attitude has now changed (I think!) in light of the all too visible unkempt state of our streets and many country lanes. Our inner cities are the worst examples, especially having seen the comparatively pristine states of other large cities in other countries.
The occasional campaign has sought to educate the public, and the threat of fines seems to have had no impact at all. I was amazed to discover that the Campaign to Protect Rural England (formerly the Council for the Preservation of Rural England) has been in existence since 1926, albeit with a view to limiting urban sprawl in its early years, and now has an anti-litter agenda. Keep Britain Tidy (www.keepbritaintidy.org) still soldiers on, but these worthy organisations seem to have receded into the background while litter, fly-tipping and the unsightliness of roads and motorway verges appear to have increased. Another issue in which society and families must take prime responsibility in educating and providing good examples for future generations.
Embedded in the choked up crease of streets
Lies litter from this wasteland world.
Plastic bags, torn to wind-whipped bunting,
Flap despairingly. Cans and bottles squint
Against the sun, while grass and weed
Wrap the rusted detritus, casually tossed
With abandon into careless heaps
By inconsiderate consumers.