Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tidying up time (2)

A lovely crisp sunny morning. Waiting at church for a call for a rendezvous I have time to kill and the sight of rubbish in the church yard irritates me, so I get a bag, a picker and a gloves and take some bending down exercise.

The leaves are beautiful, but someone has sown styrofoam packaging beads among them, and they look so badly out of place, so artificial. Also strewn among the leaves, on the grass and in the flower beds, are cigarette butts, their packages and film wrappers, drinking straws, the lids and trays from take away cups, sugar packaging, tickets, promotional flyers, cardboard and styrofoam cups, bottles - plastic and glass, bags - paper and glass, food trays - slow and fast - sandwich wrappers, paper hand towels and tissues, shreds of newspaper, plastic cable ties once used to secure banners, even lengths of used duct tape.

This is all the regular stuff. After an outbreak of strong winds, guaranteed there'll be a broken umbrella. Twice last week I counted six cheap umbrellas broken abandoned in the street during my mile walk to church. On each occasion only one was placed in a rubbish bin.

Here's a list of the most frequently picked up branded pieces of rubbish :

Macdonalds' boxes and cups
Burger King boxes and cups
Cornish Pastie Shop bags
Costa and Café Nero cups
Cigarette packets

Then it's soft drink plastic bottles, including spring water bottles and cans which are widely sold in stores large and small. After that it's small lager bottles, often smashed, indicating the state of mind of the consumer. Wine and spirits bottles are less frequently found.

If I had 20 pence for every item I picked up, and did it several times a week for a year, I'd be able to pay for a new Apple Macbook.

Now, the Council seem reluctant to move forward on providing any new rubbish bins (and cycle racks) or introduce Street Warden scheme with powers to fine litter droppers - I reckon it'd soon pay for itself, through fines and reduced cleansing costs.

So why not introduce a standard 20p charge per item with disposable packaging, which could be refunded by those returning items to collecting points. It could give a source of income to city beggars in exchange for real socially constructive labour.

Well, I can dream. Too many of the 'Proud Capital's' citizens are beyond caring about pride and turn our streets into a midden, hardly ever challenged. I know I'm not alone in hating this civic slovenliness. But changing attitudes and getting real action requires a lot more than funding, political will or bright ideas. We're as perverse a bunch as we are sloppy.

I'm sure the exercise did me good anyway.

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