Dear Editor (of the Ramblers magazine, Walk)
Andrew McCulloch (Walk Spring 2010 Your View) believes that litter is not a serious issue. Whilst his opinion is of course valid, I can’t allow it to go unchallenged. I am 52 and can remember the time before cars ruled our country and before plastic packaging became a scourge and a recycling nightmare. The spread of the automobile, as well as the increase in ready to go food and excess packaging have all contributed to the spread of litter.
Litter in the UK is now totally acceptable. There are almost no places we can go where there is no litter, except for the places where Ramblers ramble. If only it were just the odd crisp packet or even just the odd bit of agricultural debris, but it’s not, some areas are so badly littered that any enjoyment of e.g. spring flowers is destroyed by having to wade through other peoples’ detritus.
We have all grown complacent. Those who drop litter have no care for soiling their own territory. Did we nurture this attitude of selfishness without accountability? There may be signs up signalling financial penalties for littering, but who polices these laws? To be a responsible citizen we have duties to perform in order to gain our rights, and also codes of how to behave publicly. Do we teach our children responsible citizenship?
I work at a university where international students visit our country. Sadly, all too often I have had to deal with the question of why do we make such a mess of our towns and our countryside, when there is so much natural beauty? Visitors from around the world are shocked at how we in such a wealthy (comparatively) country live in such filth.
So no, I don’t accept that litter is not a pressing issue. The other issues Mr McCulloch mentions are of course all very important but we need to sort out our own backyards as well. We must not succumb to the disease of complacency.
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.