I don’t know how to stop this perennial problem, but I do know that it’s up to all of us to take it on the chin and do something about it.
I was in the park recently clearing up a den of garbage made by senior schoolchildren.
I know it’s them as I’ve seen them there nesting before school, happily scoffing packed lunches before throwing tin foil on the floor, or devouring £3 worth of lunch money in sweets before simply dropping the wrappers.
A passing woman stopped in surprise to ask me what I was doing, and was quite mortified that I was picking up the mess.
She kept repeating the same phrase: ‘that’s not your job’.
And she’s right, it’s not my job.
But I do it because I don’t want to walk through the same crud day after day and wait for someone else to do something about it.
Nor do I want to spend my life standing around looking at litter, blaming someone else for dropping it (although obviously I’d prefer it if they didn’t).
I’d rather spend a little while making my walk nicer for the next seven days or so. Is that giving the wrong impression –to the litter louts – that people will always clear up for you?
I don’t think so. I think that by walking past litter on the ground, each and every one of us is condoning leaving it there, saying that it’s okay.
I was at a festival last weekend and was gobsmacked by the attitude to littering displayed by teenagers and those in their early 20s.
There was a complete disregard for bins (positioned everywhere), bin bags (given out) and comments (made directly).
I know how hard it is, when faced with this total disregard, to summon up the effort to pick up after other people.
But that’s what we need to do, whether at a festival, in a park, on a beach, or wherever it is that litter bothers us the most, if we want to keep our environment clean and set a good example.
It’s boring and repetitive, but the reality is that we now live in a disposable society.