Imostly write about London as any regular – or casual – reader of CabbieBlog would have realised. I’m also in the fortunate position to be able to walk every day in suburban London and have reached an age to be categorised as a ‘grumpy old man’.
My greatest bugbear, in a closely contested long list, is litter. Brought up in post-war suburbia when any waste was considered a crime, dropping anything in the street was punishable by the loss of privileges.
During lockdown I’ve taken to walking around the local roads, only to be greeted by the overly familiar sight of litter-strewn streets. This has been exacerbated by our local London authority’s inability to source brooms, at best once a month they now stroll around brandishing a grabber and plastic bag which enables them to remove any large items.
Once it took over two weeks of correspondence between me and a local councillor and then a direct notification that I instigated to the refuse department to remove rubbish [ pictured below] which clearly couldn’t be lifted using a hand grabber.
Bottles and wrappers lie but feet away from bins – the extra few steps it would take to throw the rubbish away being evidently one step too far for many.
Beyond simply ruining my walks, and allowing my dog to supplement his diet, should I not be looking, it has had many grave environmental, economic and social repercussions.
In my opinion, the worst outcome is the damage done to animals, LitterGram claims that 70,000 animals are killed or injured annually by litter in the UK, whilst the RSPCA receives 14 calls a day regarding animals affected by litter.
Out of a total of 7,200 sites surveyed by Keep Britain Tidy, 14 per cent were found to be at an unacceptable standard for litter. While 48 per cent of respondents admitted to dropping litter, this number is only increasing, with a new incident of fly-tipping occurring every 12 seconds.
Beyond the cost to life, the financial cost is also shocking. Litter-strewn roads on average have been found to decrease the value of a property by 12 per cent, although looking at the rubbish in front gardens of many who have bought a house around here, rubbish-strewn streets seem to be an attraction.
Picking up litter is estimated to cost local authorities in the UK on average £1 billion a year, but certainly not by my council.
Another piece of research has found that if a company’s product is often seen on the street as litter, it is estimated that this can result in a 2 per cent drop in the company’s turnover, clearly McDonald’s where not included in the findings.
As was espoused by Rudolph Giuliani, New York’s mayor in the late 1990s, litter can be attributed to a lack of general safety. Dealing with minor crimes like dropping litter helps to reduce larger crimes and improve public safety, in addition, litter can damage a local sense of pride and worth, resulting in further anti-social acts.
So there you have it. Is dropping litter an ageist propensity, cultural trait or just my geographical location?