There was a reminder, in the news this week, of the high cost of littering in the UK, when a report was published by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee stating that clearing up costs taxpayers up to £850 million a year. Surely, this problem could be mostly eradicated by simply not dropping litter in the first place? Our son was brought up to put every single piece of litter in his pocket or a bag and to transport it to the nearest bin, or take it home. Similarly, when we had a dog, we picked up its faeces and disposed of it, rather than leaving it for someone else to come along and step in it!
I work in a beautiful part of the High Weald, and try and get a walk in before I step into work, and at lunchtime. It is lovely countryside, but there is nearly always a trail of fast food packaging, cigarette packets, bottles and cans along the verge, or in the hedgerows thrown out from passing vehicles. What is their problem?! Occasionally too, some fly-tipper has dumped a mattress, a sofa, or a washing-machine amongst the trees. Somewhere in their heart and soul there must be an obstruction that blocks them from seeing how this defiles the earth that we all share.
I love Wendell Berry’s poem - The Future, and I regularly pick up the litter and take it home in a carrier bag to put in our recycling bin. I hope Mr Berry won’t mind me quoting it here.
For God’s sake, be done
with this jabber of ‘a better world.’
What blasphemy! No ‘futuristic’
twit or child thereof ever
in embodied light will see
a better world than this, though they
foretell inevitably a worse.
Do some thing! Go cut the weeds
beside the oblivious road. Pick up
the cans and bottles, old tires,
and dead predictions. No future
can be stuffed into this presence
except by being dead. The day is
clear and bright, and overhead
the sun not yet half finished
with his daily praise.