Thinking Aloud On a Sunday


I woke up today thinking about Litter. Not just any average, everyday litter, but the mountains of rubbish (garbage) left behind recently in some beauty spots and city centres. Adding to the blatant disregard of public safety by not social distancing, the thoughtless morons who participated in the sun-seeking events or football celebrations also thought themselves to be above clearing up their own litter.

After almost 500,000 ignorant visitors descended on Bournemouth beach, they left behind them some 70 metric tonnes of rubbish. This included a great deal of plastic which might have been washed into the sea, as well as numerous cans and glass bottles posing a hazard to people and wildlife.

Someone also took this short video of the spoiled beach, early the next morning.

Liverpool Football Club celebrated winning the Premier League championship for the first time in thirty years. Against the advice of the city authorities, and the club itself, tens of thousands of hysterical fans took to the streets of the city to celebrate. Not only did they show complete disregard for social distancing, they managed to start a fire in the iconic Liver Building by firing rockets at it. Then when they finally went home, this is what the ignorant horde left in their wake.

An impromptu Gay Pride event was staged on Clapham Common, in London. Attended by over 500 people, it was said to be peaceful and good-natured.
Until they went home, and it was discovered what they had left behind on this popular recreational green space.

I am just beyond anger at this disgraceful behaviour. I don’t want to even be of the same nationality as the inconsiderate pigs doing things like this.


Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

(Or if you are from America, ‘Garbage’.)

No idea why I woke up thinking about this today, though it might have had something to do with the ridiculous amount of packaging used by Amazon, for sending small items in the post.
I have written about recycling before on this blog, as long ago as 2013. But even that has changed dramatically since this.

Do you remember when fresh food produce was loose? When grapes were in a bunch, not a plastic box? How about when fish and meat were wrapped in white paper, then carried home in a non-plastic shopping bag? If you can answer “Yes” to all those, then you may also be thinking about the huge amount of rubbish generated by the average household, in the so-called ‘developed countries’. Time was when all we had was a metal dustbin, with a lid that you lifted off. Everything went in there, and it was collected and emptied by the local authority once a week. As I recall, it was almost never full, except perhaps at Christmas.

More recently, we have seen the imposition of large plastic wheelie bins. They hold much more than the old dustbins, and we have three of them, not one. One is for ‘general’ rubbish, one for ‘recyclables’, and the other for ‘garden waste’. They are no longer collected once a week, as that has now extended to fortnightly collections. And they are always full, sometimes so full that we have to hold back some items until they are emptied, as the waste removal operatives (no longer ‘dustmen’) will not take them if the lid isn’t flush.

Why is that? There are only two of us; three if you count Ollie, but he leaves no rubbish behind. The answer is staring us in the face. Everything is in a plastic box, or some other kind of container. We no longer use loose tea, so the tea bags go in the bin too. You would think that we could recycle all those plastic containers, but no. Most of them are the ‘wrong type’ of plastic. This applies to cellophane, any black or dark-coloured containers like microwaveable boxes, and even things such as the plastic tops of some bottles, which cannot be recycled along with the bottles themselves.

Foil is recyclable, but only if it is clean. So forget that, unless you have enough free time to wash used foil. (Using hot water generated by electricity, thus increasing your carbon footprint) Paper is recyclable of course, we all know that. But is it? Certain kinds of paper and cardboard are not 100% recyclable, (shiny paper, for example) so that ends up in the main rubbish bin instead.

So we can be forgiven for being confused, surely? It even depends on what part of the country you live in, whether or not certain things can be placed in the recycling bin. Most of the population struggles with what can and can’t go in. In the effort to do the right thing, we plonk anything looking vaguely recyclable into the bin for that. Better than landfill, and it can be sorted by the waste removal people. They understand our confusion, they must do. But no, they don’t. They expect us to keep up to date with it all, and be aware of any changes or developments. We are supposed to read the tiny symbols on packaging, and to check online to see what has been added or removed from the ever-changing list.

Woe betide you make a mistake. The ‘Bin-checkers’ will be on you, and will leave a note. That note warns you that failure to recycle correctly could result in a fine. In extreme cases, they might even refuse to collect your wheelie bins at all.

Not only would this mean people dumping their rubbish locally, it also means that those of us who are unsure what counts as ‘good’ recycling no longer take any chances. If in doubt, it goes in a black plastic bin liner, and into the ‘general rubbish’ wheelie. That ‘good recycling’ changes like the weather, so I find myself unwilling to risk it more and more lately. The next time you are putting those carefully-washed yoghurt pots into your recyclables, be careful. Ask yourself, “Is this the right type of yoghurt pot?”

The answer lies with the supermarkets and manufacturers. Just stop. Stop putting grapes in boxes, asparagus into black plastic trays covered in cling-film. Stop putting potatoes into small plastic bags. Stop giving small plastic bags for us to put our produce in for weighing, and replace them with paper ones. Stop wrapping reams of bubble wrap around things that won’t break in the post, or stuffing out huge cartons with fifty feet of paper, just to send me something one-eighth of the size of the box it comes in.

And local authorities, you are picking on the wrong targets. Instead of threatening me over the inclusion of a plastic tray of the ‘wrong plastic’, get down to any of the four huge supermarkets in the town, and fine them for selling £1.30 worth of purple sprouting broccoli in a black plastic tray covered in a double-wrap of film.

Because if all this doesn’t stop, everyone knows how it will end.

The first day of the holidays

Today was the first day of the school holidays, at least in this area. Excited children, looking forward to the next six weeks with no routine. No getting up early, and being able to play out in the fresh air albeit supervised, (at least the young ones) by parents or grandparents.

By the time I got out with Ollie today, the skies were darkening, and the forecast was for showers later in the afternoon. Once again, I exchanged my stick for an umbrella, taking no chances. I was pleased to see so many youngsters out and about. They were playing on the park equipment, enjoying the swings, and the small slide. Older children were using the football court, and some had set up a cricket match on the large open area. It was all looking pristine, as the grass was only cut last Monday, and they had even used strimmers, to clear around and under all the benches and play areas.

I wandered off with Ollie, down towards the river. I hadn’t got far when the first large raindrops began to land on me. By the time I reached the bend, the rain was evident on the water, and coin-sized splashes could be noticed on the dry areas of the path. I completed a circuit, which took me back towards the park once more. By now, my umbrella was up, and the shower had turned into constant rain. I felt sorry for the families who had been enjoying the facilities, as they rushed to put on coats, retrieve their belongings, and make a rush for nearby houses, or the shelter of cars parked near the entrance. Their efforts to enjoy the open space in the fresh air of Beetley had yet again been foiled by our unpredictable weather, and the seemingly endless rain.

Ollie and I were soon alone, left to continue our watery promenade in the now deserted space. Turning back to walk in front of the football court and playground, I was dismayed to see the rubbish discarded by those who had just departed. Much of the boundary of the enclosed court was littered with refuse casually flung away by those same children as they left for home. Plastic water bottles, metal drink cans, sweet wrappers, crisp bags, and even large plastic fruit containers, were strewn around the whole area. And these children were being supervised by adults, some of whom had been inside the fenced area with their offspring. They must have seen the things being thrown on the ground, and said nothing. It isn’t as if the area is short of rubbish bins. There is one right by the gate of the football court, and that had an empty can placed on top of it, almost a gesture of complete defiance.

I found a carrier bag blowing around the field, and went into the court. In a few moments, I filled the bag to capacity with all the rubbish, and put it into one of the bins nearby. I am no saint, and I do not sit in judgement of everyone who has ever carelessly thrown something away. But in this area, where vandalism and graffiti is almost unknown, and the local authority tries hard to provide facilities for the residents, and to keep them clean, tidy, and well-maintained, I have to say that I thought this was a little depressing.

Once the weather improves, and there are ten times as many people around, I dread to think what a state the place will be in. Roll on back to school, in the first week of September.