Litter Problem

Lumphinnans Pond
Lumphinnans Pond

A few years ago whilst walking in the Meadies, a woman was picking up litter, I got talking to her and it turned out she was a volunteer at the Meadies and one of her responsibilities was to pick up all the litter, however she would do it anyway, even if she wasn’t a volunteer as she wants to see nature rather than litter, I agree.

A while back I had visitors from the Czech republic and although they loved it here, they were shocked at the sheer amount of litter lying around. Seeing it through their eyes, I agreed, it was awful.

I’ve become more aware of the litter in our countryside, our parks, our green areas, sometimes it has been difficult to even take a photo without seeing a piece of litter spoiling the scene. Funnily enough the more you become aware of it, the more you see, it is everywhere!

Although I don’t go out specifically to pick up litter, I do carry a bag with me when I go out for my walks, and automatically pick up bits and pieces and either put them in the nearest bin or take it home and bin it. Some areas are so littered it would be impossible to clean up without a squad of volunteers. I at least try to pick up items that are not bio-degradable or are more of a danger to children, dogs, wildlife, such as glass, tin cans, plastic bags, etc., all of which present a potential hazard to our wildlife. One of my personal bugbears is seeing plastic bags blown into trees and bushes and just left there. We are surrounded by such beauty and yet despoil it with litter with no thought to the damage our litter creates.

It doesn’t help that Fife Council seems to have removed litter bins in the spirit of ‘austerity measures,’ yet it is a false economy as there will need to be a clean-up of the litter at some stage.

In the meantime…

I came across an excellent site:-
Written by Tim Barnes, he advocates;

‘Be a hero – pick up some litter’

Here are some paragraphs from his site:

Five things you can do about litter

  1. Pick it up! It won’t hurt and nobody will laugh at you.
  2. Report heavily littered streets and roads to your Council – they have to pick it up.
  3. Write to your MP and ask him/her to urge the Government to introduce a 10p deposit on drinks cans and bottles.
  4. Write to Coca-Cola, Red Bull and McDonalds and ask them why their products are so heavily littered and what they are going to do about it .
  5. Pick up some more litter – there’s lots of it.

About the problem

The UK is one of the most heavily littered countries in Europe. A couple of years ago my wife and I cycled from Calais to Istanbul. Of all the countries we travelled through only Serbia had more litter than than the UK.

Litter is a complex problem and there are no quick, easy solutions. It boils down to two key issues:

  1. A significant proportion of the population still thinks it is OK to drop litter, particularly when they are in their cars.
  2. Hardly anyone picks it up.

Stopping people littering is very difficult. Twenty years of poster campaigns, TV adverts, and voluntary agreements, have had little effect on littering behaviour. More resources are going into litter wardens and on the spot fines, but it is difficult to catch people in the act of littering.

One initiative that is proven to lead to a significant reduction in littering is a Bottle Bill, a 10p refundable deposit on cans and plastic bottles. However, at present this is not even on the Government’s radar.

In the mean time, we need to do a better job of picking up litter. This is not something that can be left to Local Authorities to solve. We all need to get into the habit of picking up litter.

It is worse in the countryside

Urban litter is just about under control. Drop a plastic drinks bottle on a city street and the Council will pick it up – it may take a few hours or a few days, but it will be picked up eventually. Drop the same bottle on a rural lane and the chances are it will never be picked up. Very few councils undertake regular litter picks in the countryside.

In the city there is also the possibility that people might be caught and fined for dropping litter. In the countryside, the risk of being caught and fined is negilible.

The good news is that litter picking in the countryside is a really pleasant thing to do.

Please check Tim’s site, it is light-hearted and very informative. Take a bag along with you on your next walk or trip out to the park, pick up bits and pieces even just one plastic bottle binned is a help, lets keep our green spaces clean.

My thanks to Tim for allowing me to publish excerpts and photos from his website:-

Photo Credits:-
Tim & LitterHeroes. Courtesy of Tim Barnes
Lumphinnanas Pond. Courtesy of Loch of Shining Water

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One Comment

  1. Jessica

    August 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm


    I am working on a documentary for the BBC and am looking to speak with local individuals who help out in the community litter picking or clearing up the streets of dog fouling because they have a passion and pride for their area and they are frustrated with those that make it a mess. We want to tackle an issue which is becoming increasingly problematic in modern society and a real nuisance, and talk to the people who are trying to do something about it.
    Please give me a ring on 01865 297 220 if you think you might be able to point towards an centre or individuals who may be suitable.

    Many thanks,

    Jessica Howe


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