10 Mar 2022

The curse of litter

Litter is a modern curse. Our streets are strewn with packaging, takeaway containers, discarded bottles. The verges of our major roads and motorways are lined with windblown rubbish. Even country walks are defiled by dog litter bags that have just been left to rot. Sandwich wrappers, plastic water bottles and empty drinks containers are left behind on seats in trains and on buses. Litter is unavoidable and universal.

We’ve all seen offenders heedlessly lobbing rubbish out of car windows, casually dropping wrappers as they walk along the street, or blithely getting up from a seat or park bench, leaving the remains of their lunch behind them.

It goes without saying that failing to clear up your litter is a prime example of bad manners. Good manners are about ensuring that you minimise the negative impact that your presence has on others, and nobody’s life is enhanced by the sight of your rubbish and discards. Litter bugs are always identifiable by their lack of awareness or self-consciousness, their entrenched inability to see, or care about, the fact that their behaviour is anti-social or offensive.

If you have children, make picking up litter and clearing up after themselves a manners mantra, much like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. If you manage to imprint good litter manners into your child early on, that behaviour will stay with them for life. They’ll refrain from dropping litter, and they’ll be offended by other people’s littering – they might even be brave or combative enough to call out littering offenders.

Take a long, hard look at your own behaviour too, and make it a golden rule that you will never leave any rubbish behind you. We’ve all been confronted by overflowing bins – especially at beaches and beauty spots – but that’s really no excuse. If there’s no bin nearby, or a bin is full, just make the extra effort to carry your litter to the next available bin, or bag it up and take it with you so you can dispose of it at home.

These are simple rules that we all need to adhere to, which will ensure that our environment is not degraded and despoiled. They are also useful rules for living, as they require us to be alert to our environment and conscious of the other people with whom we are sharing the planet.

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