Litter!

28 07 2018

As I haven’t been doing any hills recently due to my hip, I’m having to write about other issues.

Many people have disregarded anything I’ve had to say if, like this, it has come from the Daily Mail… whatever your political leanings, they do often have something to say and the paper based versions (as this is) are often well written as they’re not ‘clickbait’ and don’t have pop-up ads or a vacuous celeb sidebar, unlike the online version. This article particularly ‘spoke to me’ – it’s about litter, in this case, on the roads – it was written by Louise Atkinson (Daily Mail 21 July 2018) and she had joined a Highways England clean-up crew for a day…

A few basic statistics from the article first…

Firstly, most litter is ejected from cars by the driver – when that driver is male, disgustingly, this includes pee-bottles. These are plastic! pop bottles which the driver has actually pee-d into – WHILE DRIVING – and then hurled out of the window. This, despite the motorways and trunk roads having very many free service stations for such purposes.

Most litter is take-away debris (eaten WHILST DRIVING) – much of the remainder is highly-contaminated, e.g. soiled nappies, sanitary ware and fouled wipes of various descriptions. A huge amount is plastics which take around 450 years to degrade.

Approximately 200,000 sacks of litter are cleared by Highways England annually – an average of 83 bags per mile of motorway.

The costs to the BRITISH PUBLIC (non-litter louts or not) is £850million annually. The £40 per bag (I haven’t checked the maths, sorry) is the equivalent to fixing a pothole – which we all moan about!

An astonishing 2 out of 5 motorists admit to throwing litter out of their vehicles!! 😮

Roadway/roadside debris (mostly litter) is obviously dangerous (as well as being unsightly and giving Britain a terrible reputation with visitors) – it causes accidents, death and injury to clean-up crews and also wildlife and livestock deaths as well as damage to the environment in general. It also causes those huge tailbacks and delays which people moan about while the mess is cleaned up.

Clean-up crews are often subjected to verbal abuse and ‘missiles’ from impatient and badly brought-up drivers – unacceptable when they’re doing a service for us. Perhaps the DVLA or similar could endeavour to educate drivers via leaflets or online notifications when they are renewing, say, road fund licence, pointing out the delays, accidents and costs caused by having to remove litter from the roadways and verges. The local councils, who are responsible for cleaning up non-major roads, could also include figures for how much council tax is increased per resident for such clean-ups. Financial considerations work well on otherwise anti-social menaces such as litter louts.

Wildlife suffer badly from litter – many crawl inside bottles and cans and get stuck and die. The RSPCA get a call, on average, around every two hours on these issues – many times they are unable to help as they are too late and the creature has died. Many animals, especially birds, are struck by vehicles while attempting to clean up our food waste from our roads – usually discarded take-aways. If I buy food,I eat it! try and get it off me!! Food waste on urban roads is also the cause of foxes, rats and other ‘undesirables’ coming into towns to scavenge.

Litter blows into adjacent fields where livestock, especially cows, who are curious by nature, try to eat it and then die – I’ve personally tried dragging a plastic bag out of a calf’s throat – a difficult job even after you’ve caught it! I did succeed eventually but not sure how badly the calf was damaged or what the long-term result was. The costs to the farmers will, of course, be passed onto the consumer (and quite rightly in this case). The suffering can’t be compensated for however – farmer or animal.

As much of this roadside litter is take-away debris, I have a suggestion for a solution. To ensure people eat their take-aways IN the service station after purchase, I suggest a £1 (minimum) deposit on the resulting waste packaging. If the consumer brings this back to the take-away for disposal, they get their £1 back – otherwise, tough! That should at least stop Yorkshire folk and Scots folk, famous for being careful with their money, from discarding their take-away wrappers and food (I can say this as I’m Yorkshire).

Also included in hazardous litter are ‘roadside memorials’ – the place for a memorial is at the cemetery, where the soul is at rest, not the roadside where it is both a distraction and plastic litter hazard. If you feel you absolutely MUST have a roadside memorial to remind you where the dreadful event occurred (can’t think why) try planting a flower or rosebush or something.

What can be done about it all? well perpetrators, if found guilty, can be fined a paltry £150 – a 3 month driving ban or similar would be far more effective. You can, however, submit evidence towards their prosecution from dashcam evidence. I’ve even shopped a guy in front of me without the evidence to the council’s litter-dropping reporting scheme and he got a warning letter. More people need to shop litter louts in vehicles and the law needs to introduce far tougher, more meaningful, penalties. Apart from that, perhaps schools and parents need to be doing a much, much better job at turning out non-litter lout folk – I would never drop litter anywhere simply because I was taught not to do so from a very young age by my parents.

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16 responses

31 07 2018
chrissiedixie

I have to say Carol, that as a Primary teacher, this sort of thing is constantly tackled in school, and I mean constantly. I even remember doing a big topic on it in one of my teaching practices back in 1987. Sadly though, the biggest influences in children’s lives are their parents, and that leaves me to only one conclusion.

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31 07 2018
mountaincoward

Yes – many parents lower the tone as it were when it comes to behaviour – unfortunately, those are the really prolific ‘breeders’.

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30 07 2018
John Bainbridge

Absolutely. I think the A66 qualifies as possibly the filthiest road in Britain. I really feel for the council workers who have to clean it up. What a waste of money just because some people are slobs.

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30 07 2018
mountaincoward

I’m just glad they’ve got ‘pickers’ – there’s no way I’d tackle any litter without – you never know what you’d catch!

Liked by 1 person

31 07 2018
John Bainbridge

But what a shame that any workers have to risk the traffic and breathe in the fumes just because people can’t take their litter home.

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31 07 2018
mountaincoward

Yes – and fumes nowadays are particularly dangerous – as my chest found out the other year when it completely cracked up. Since I’ve moved over here, both my nose (chronic rhinitis) and my lungs are much improved!

Liked by 1 person

1 08 2018
John Bainbridge

Pleased to hear that.

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1 08 2018
mountaincoward

it was one of my aims moving to a true rural area

Liked by 1 person

29 07 2018
Blue Sky Scotland

I’ve noticed in the past there is a bit of paper snobbery depending what you read although that’s fast getting eroded by the extra low bar set by online news- a worrying trend. Also online bullies in that medium soon shout down any intelligent comments that happen to appear. I’m not a Daily Mail reader, or any other newspaper these days but when I do read it I quite enjoy it. Loved the descriptive ‘ Sharp elbowed middle classes dragging their children behind them’ in an article about jumping waiting lists to get into the best schools. Very vivid imagery.
I’m very pessimistic about our planet’s chances of survival. With a billion new inhabitants every 20 to 30 years and human nature being what it is we are already doomed- we just don’t realise it yet.

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29 07 2018
mountaincoward

I agree – we’re definitely doomed – and I think it will be doing the planet a huge favour when we’re gone!

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29 07 2018
Blue Sky Scotland

The good news for outright pessimists/realists is that you are never disappointed by human nature… so the world turns rosy again :o)
Bring it on!.

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28 07 2018
Jim R

Your description of the problem fits that in the U.S. as well. It is a disgusting problem wherever it happens. We like to take walks around our neighborhoods. Our city has many public paved interconnecting trails. People toss their trash there, too. Dog owners are to pick up after their animals with plastic bags provided at many locations. Waste bins are provided. Even then, some toss their collected bags of s**t to the side, or up in a tree, where they hang. Why do they even bother collecting it in the first place?

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29 07 2018
mountaincoward

Yes – we get the dog-poo trees – they also leave the bags stuffed into our famous dry stone walls. I’d rather they didn’t bag it than do that – at least it would eventually degrade – it will take forever in plastic bags. I also don’t get the people who neatly bag their litter and then leave it just anywhere – laybys, verges, wherever!

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30 07 2018
Jim R

It doesn’t make any sense.

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28 07 2018
Geoffrey Sturdy

Evening Carol
hope you are well – hip notwithstanding – any litter in my car stays in my car until it goes into a proper receptacle at a services or at home – just how hard can that be for these examples?

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29 07 2018
mountaincoward

I can never understand how they can’t just have a little bin in the back of their car or suchlike and take it home to empty – it’s just so easy. Mind you, I’ve been in cars where the whole car is a rubbish receptacle – don’t understand that either – that would put me off my driving!

Hope you’re all well too – my hip op is late next month – not really looking forward to it but it’s necessary.

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