OPINION: Stop littering and make the world a better place

By Swindon Link - 1 July 2020

Opinion and Features

By Marlborough Lane resident Carole Bent, who has made it her mission to stop litterbugs. You can send any feedback to carole@artofflight.co.uk

My ideal Saturday morning and Sunday evening isn’t clearing someone else's rubbish, but I didn’t want kids walking to a school having to step over it thinking that adults don’t give a damn  …because if that's true, what right do we have to ask them not to litter too?

So I cleared up someone else's mess. Again. And I know that I’m far from the only person picking up other people's litter at a time that we are being warned to be careful about what we touch.

Loads have done the same. A friend, Bea Menier has cleared litter in the Great Copse for years. She's not alone.

Over many years hundreds of people have walked the town's streets armed with litter pickers, black bags and with community spirit. Some still do.

I started to do the same with other members of the Old Town Residents Association, Business Association and local residents and scouts seven years ago and I continue to pick up litter regularly on an ad hoc basis.

Plenty of people care.  In the pandemic's early weeks, people seemed to become more aware of the essential role that nature plays in our lives - young and old alike.

But in recent weeks, this sense of connection with our natural world has been compromised by images appearing showing landscapes full of litter, beaches brimming with bottles and fields full of throwaways.

This weekend, I saw it thrown from people casually parked on the old railway embankment on the edge of the natural wildlife corridor where we live. They breathed in fresh air before throwing their litter to the wind.

Last week, I put a message on our gate each day, encouraging people to look after the local environment. It was a tiny thing to do, but the response from old and young alike was heartening.

Seeing messages from our local primary school head teacher, Elaine Murphy asking parents and children to look after the natural wildlife corridor and the Croft neighbourhood, including not littering was heartening too.

A few days ago, I did a couple of posts on Facebook about rubbish and was reminded just how many people do their best, close to home in Swindon and much further afield.  Friends from Australia, Bristol, Calne,  London, Stroud, South Africa and Thailand made contact. They wanted us to know that rubbish is being dropped daily where they live too and that they’d love to see it stop too.

As so many of us care, a question that is going around my head is less about how we clear it up - but whether its possible to help to change mindsets to stop people throwing it in the first place.

At a time when stopping the flow of rubbish into our natural environment seems even more important than ever and with so many great people and organisation around, it feels like a worthwhile question.

Each time that someone chooses not to drop litter, we each do something to make our world a bit better.

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