For some odd reason we have seen a rise in litter since Covid-19 broke out. Why is this? Does it reflect national frustrations or just an increase in takeaway meals and outdoor parties?
It is strange that people continue to discard PPE despite obvious health risks. Have we ceased to care about endangering wildlife and polluting the environment? Ben Deutsch described it as, ‘an act of libertarian defiance.’ Jill Crouch decided, ‘we are coming out of a me me me time – a superficial needing of more and wondering why we are not fulfilled when we get it.’
This rubber shoe was found washed up on the shore with a mask, but there has been gradually less sea plastic found on my stretch of the Solent, presumably due to fewer ferries and less shipping.
I have been reporting finds in the local newspaper in an effort to inspire others to begin collecting flotsam.
“SophieNeville, beach-hedge-and river-saviour,” one reader commented. “It’s frightening just how much litter she removes. I’m inspired to try to emulate her.”
Meanwhile, there have been lots of vehicle part to retrieve on dry land.
Lockdown certainly bought an increase in fly-tipping as people used time off work to clear out their sheds and attics or redecorate. At the same time, Council dumps closed during the first Lockdown and then introduced various restrictions, which proved disastrous. The New Forest National Park was hit particularly hard with bed mattresses and junk being dumped in precious wilderness areas.
Matt Rudd, writing in the Sunday Times Magazine was horrified by the increase in rubbish strewn about during Lockdown. He wrote, “There are two schools of thought on why people litter. The first is that they hate themselves for cramming all that junk food into their faces. Chucking wrappers out of the car window is just self-hatred by proxy.” Certainly, most of the litter I find has once wrapped over-sugared, over-salted, over-caffeinated food and drink of some kind. I would add tobacco and harmful drugs to his list. It’s as if people want to distance themselves from guilt and shame.
“The second,” Matt Rudd claims, “is that the further you are from home, the less you care about the environment.” And yet, he witnesses that, even in strict Lockdown, our local parks and car parks are strewn with newly dumped masks. Does the fear of contracting a virus make people more selfish?
However, the response has been amazing. Despite restrictions, individuals have used their daily exercise allowance to clean the beaches and verges of Britain. Litter-Pickers of the New Forest have gained over 1,300 volunteers in the last year, with an active Facebook Page and Justgiving site. They encourage members with sponsors delivering rewards for volunteer achievements.
If you happen upon a litter-picker, do give them encouragement, and if possible, lend them a hand. We are all fighting the same battle.
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8 thoughts on “Diary of a Litter Picker: Lockdown Reflections”
You have certainly inspired us to do more litter picking.
We pick away but there is a need to raise awareness. I’m going to start writing to companies.
Yes, we do think they must start taking some responsibility. A lot of what we find is the detritus of the takeaway industry.
Drinks companies need to put their minds to the problem. The name on so much litter can hardly be good advertising.
No indeed, and I do think these companies should be far more liable for their refuse.
It is incredible what some people throw away and dump. Your campaign and your blogs really are an inspiration, Sophie; they have certainly opened my eyes and made me notice the seemingly endless problem, and I now pick up litter when I see it whenever I can. It will probably be a long battle but it is one well worth fighting.
We need to make companies more aware. I stayed at a Holiday Inn, which was exceptional, and yet the car park was strewn with revolting litter. It let down the whole place and yet can’t have been on the manager’s tick list.
Matt Rudd is correct. People do have this perception that if something occurs out of the view of their area where they live then its alright. It’s a very selfish perception and wrong. If someone fly tips outside someone else’s home then it’s quite rightly regarded as an outrage. However if the rubbish is dumped say 10 miles away up a country lane then this is ok? Really. The only thing different here is geography, nothing else.