What stopped me from picking it up and putting it in the bin?
We are surrounded by a depressing array of discarded plastic bottles, crisp packets, fast food wrappers and drinks cans. And we hate it. So what psychology stops us picking it up and binning it? Embarrassment to be different? Concern about catching a disease? It’s not my responsibility – the council should do it? The bin is already full? If I start, where will I stop?
Do we accept litter?
The scale of the current litter problem is certainly daunting. Unfortunately, litter attracts more litter and every time we pass litter and ignore it we are saying “litter is acceptable”. With proposed council budget cuts it is likely to get worse. But if enough of us decide not to tolerate it – in our own street; on our favourite walk– maybe we can turn the litter juggernaut round!
So, what did stop me from putting that litter in the bin? Full or not, on reflection, the main reason was not wanting to draw attention to myself. I still feeling ashamed, though the truth is I don’t ignore all litter. I pick up and recycle aluminium drinks cans, because they represent so much wasted energy. (Recycling 1 aluminium drinks can saves enough energy to boil water for 14 cups of tea.)
Pick it up and put it in
Emboldened by my sponsored CanSaveCarbon drinks can litter-picking, I have decided I will also pick up other litter regularly from my own road, and if I see litter by a bin, I will pick it up and put it in.
Reluctantly I will continue to turn a blind eye to most other litter. My CanSaveCarbon campaign is specifically about picking up and recycling aluminium cans in order to save energy and CO2 emissions. For the time being, that is my priority.
Are you a litter hero?
The more people I talk to, the more people I discover who are also picking up litter. If you are one of them, please tell us your story. Where do you start and stop? What response do you get? Any advice for others inspired to act?
Here are just a few of the local litter heroes I know about:
- Geoffrey who clears litter every day in Bontnewydd with his dog Joe
- Carys, Beryl and Sue who all pick up litter from the road near their homes in my village
- Snowdonia Society litter-picking volunteers who keep Snowdon tidy
- RAW Adventures who lead a litter-picking team in every Real 3 Peaks Challenge
- Loving our Lake regularly pick up litter round Llyn Padarn
- Keep Wales Tidy
- The mystery can collector who left a bag of 57 aluminium drinks cans on my doorstep.
If you want to start picking up litter, contact Wales’ Tidy Towns initiative; they can supply litter-picking equipment and put you in touch with other litter-pickers.