Saturday, 13 January 2018

New Year, Same Old Rubbish - and it's not fair

Happy New Year!

Posted by Julie Howell on Saturday, 6 January 2018

We hit the ground running in 2018 with our first litter pick of the year on Saturday 6th January.

This time, we visited Kilham in Orton Goldhay, after a local resident called me to ask if anything could be done to improve the state of the litter along local public footpaths. The city council had recently cut the hedgerows right back revealing several year's worth of rubbish that was trapped there and had been hidden from view. It looked absolutely dreadful.

I'm not pointing the finger at people who live in this area. Wherever you have hedgerows that run alongside public footpaths you'll have rubbish and most of that rubbish is beer cans and fast food wrappers tossed into the bushes by passersby.

Four volunteers and seventeen sacks of litter
We pulled 17 bags of litter from the hedgerows

A litter crisis

We knew we had a big job on our hands this time. Over the course of two hours, my team of hardy volunteers pulled 17 bags-worth of rubbish from the hedges.

The footpaths are a thoroughfare from the Orton Centre to other parts of Orton and litter bins are in scarce supply, owing to the cost of emptying them (according to the council). But local residents pay council tax and quite rightly expect the council to regularly clear the area of litter. However, this just isn't happening frequently enough or thoroughly enough. Five of us cleared the area in two hours. If it was cleared every few weeks by the council it wouldn't get nearly as bad as it was when we visited.

I know a lot of people who live in this area. They're lovely. They don't deserve to live among this mess. It's really, really unfair.

We have a litter crisis in this country, not just in Peterborough. The Government needs to take steps to ensure that there is less plastic and aluminium in circulation as a great deal of it ends up in the local environment where it suffocates the earth, damages the habitat that local wildlife relies upon and looks awful.

We reported quite a lot of fly tip which the council has since taken away.

Take your litter home with you

The message for everyone is a simple one. Please, take your litter home with you and dispose of it with the rest of your household waste. Yes, we do all pay council tax for the council to clear away the mess from our environment and clearly not enough is being done to keep on top of it at the moment. But we can all help by not adding to the problem.

Roger holding a teddy he found in a bush
We find a lot of children's toys in the bushes, like this pre-loved teddy.

Beer and children should not mix

We find all sorts of things during our litter picks. It's not unusual to find children's toys buried in the dirt. It's great that children are playing outside in the fresh air and Orton has a lot of lovely green space for children to enjoy.

We also find things that no child should stumble across, including sanitary products, nappies and even a pregnancy testing kit (that had been used which meant that someone must have urinated on it - you don't want a child to pick that up). But the worst of it is undoubtedly the discarded beer cans. Do you really want children playing among these?

A sack of beer cans and a child's toy car
Beer cans and children's toys. These shouldn't be found together.

Report it

My team doesn't seek to do the council's job for it. Like every resident, I want the council to do the job we all pay it to do. But we are happy to come out and lend a hand, without judgement about how the litter got there or whose responsibility it is. I believe everyone has a right to live in a clean, tidy environment where they feel safe and healthy and where local nature can thrive. If you think my team of volunteers can make a difference in your street, let me know. In the meantime, you can always report any fly tip in your street to the council on 01733 747474.