‘Dropping litter isn’t just a nuisance, it is environmental vandalism…’
Many people forget that Margaret Thatcher was a keen environmentalist. She was the first political leader to deliver a thought provoking speech at the United Nations. She took the issue of acid rain and CFCs seriously. She introduced fiscal carrots and sticks to support the move to unleaded petrol and the use of catalytic converters. Perhaps her most important stricture was that humans are leaseholders rather than freeholders of the earth.
Many years after, her environmental issues and the climate emergency are, and rightly so, at the forefront of most people’s minds. Caring for our world is not an optional extra. A nice to have. A debating subject. It is of vital necessity. While there are many facets to environmentalism in this article I want to focus on one because it is one that all of us can do something about – litter and flytipping.
I want you to think of our country as our body. I want you now to consider our roads, rivers and streams as our veins and arteries. Our towns, villages and woodlands as major organs. The ocean that surrounds our island as skin. With this picture in our minds I now want you to come with me and my family as we search high and low for our lost dog recently – pausing here for a moment can I thank from the bottom of my heart everyone in North Dorset who kept an eye out and who have contacted me to offer sympathy. It has been appreciated hugely.
We have a reliable Dorset Council waste collection service. Local recycling centres can accommodate larger items, green waste together with household waste etc. So we found ourselves wondering aloud why so many people seem to take so much effort to dump their rubbish in our arteries and vital organs – that is our roads, streams, towns/villages and woods – rather than use the facilities.
A woodland floor just flushing green scarred by rubbish dumped in black bags. A used sofa left at the side of the road. A fridge in the Stour. Twenty-two bags of salad left at a woodland edge. Piles of rubble, wood, pipes, old baths just left there for someone else to come and pick up – that is even if the dumpers care what happens. Their behaviour does not suggest very much care. Punctured tyres. Fast food cartons. Fag butts.
They are the environmental equivalent of graffiti – they degrade and scar our living world. I applauded the six hardy souls I saw a few Sundays ago doing a litter pick on the main road outside Marnhull. Spick and span. The following morning yet more vandals had degraded the environment. We have to see litter not as a nuisance but for what it is – environmental vandalism. Rubbish blowing around then enters our watercourse arteries running on to pollute our ‘skin’, the ocean. As a species let us ask ourselves who the Hell do we think we are, what does it say about ourselves if we really are prepared to defecate in our own nests? Have we really become that stupid and selfish?