The Wokingham Paper

NEIL COUPE: Let’s work together to keep Wokingham tidy

Litter is a problem everywhere not just Wokingham - but we can play our part to Keep Britain Tidy Picture: Emphyrio from Pixabay

It feels as though life is gradually returning to something resembling normality, (or a ‘new normal’ to use the vernacular), as the roads become busier, people start returning to work and a few lucky pupils return to school. 

There is increased activity, more people out and about, and regrettably, annoyingly, and wholly unnecessarily, more litter.

Walking toward the Co-op at the weekend I saw a mother and daughter walking in the opposite direction. 

They stopped at a pile of litter dumped gratuitously out of a car onto the side of the road. 

There were two bottles of a well-known isotonic drink, two cans of an energy drink and two discarded paper bags from a well-known purveyor of sausage and vegan rolls. 

I could see a shake of the head, a thoroughly reasonable and warranted few seconds of tutting, and then off they strolled lamenting the selfishness and laziness of whoever had dropped this into the road.   

The people walking by had not dropped the litter but there was a bin 20 yards away.

How much effort would it have taken to pick it up and move it off the street? By the way, in case people would like to see this pile of debris for themselves, it is too late as my wife and I spent 10 seconds of our life relocating it to the afore-mentioned bin.

One of my friends spends some of his Sundays collecting litter in his neighbouring streets and was stopped and thanked by a passing woman for such public-spiritedness. 

When he was asked whether someone could start picking up litter on her road he mentioned that the Council will happily supply a litter picker, bags, and hi-viz jackets on request, and perhaps the lady and her neighbours would like to volunteer, the lady scuttled off without another word.

Litter is completely unnecessary and, to state the obvious, is the fault of the people making the mess. Life would be slightly more pleasant for all of us if there wasn’t any. 

What I noticed about these anecdotes is that we as a society are very good at recognising a problem, but it does not always cross our minds that they can be part of the solution. 

For many of us, litter is a problem to be solved by other people, or of course by the Council or the Government, when it can be dealt with much closer to home.

At Bournemouth last month, even before the relaxation of the rules, there was apparently 10 times as much litter as during the same weekend the previous year.

Three quarters comprised glass and plastic bottles, not just the expected strong lager but also heritage gin and prosecco.

It was pointed out that the people obliged to tidy up after everyone else are among the key workers, to whom we have been expressing gratitude for keeping the country going over the past 100 days or so.

Expressing our appreciation by unnecessarily increasing their workload is unusual to say the least.

There is a view that if there were more bins, then there would be far less mess.

I write as Saturday, July 4, approaches, and wonder whether there are any bins, or even if they are full, it would be great to think that the ‘new normal’ would mean that people exercising their right to congregate and have food and drink together in a public place, will be as diligent at taking away their waste as they will have been in planning and buying their supplies in the first place.

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