Earlier this term I was walking towards the sports centre that is opposite the school. There was a car stopped in the road and the driver was talking to a pedestrian on the opposite side of the road from me. The passenger’s window was open and from it, as I was watching, an empty sweet bag was nonchalantly tossed onto the curbside below.
I was astounded at the brazenness of the action. How could someone have the nerve and lack of decency to just chuck a piece of non-biodegradable rubbish onto an otherwise perfectly clean and tidy side street? As it just sat on the tarmac next to the car, I decided to find out and walked down to pick up the offending article. I handed it to the girl who was sitting next to the driver and said “excuse me, would you please take your litter away with you and not throw it out of the window here?”
She was aged about sixteen, I guess, and looked at me like she would look at a piece of dog shit on her shoe: something unwanted that she had not noticed but seemed to be temporarily stuck with. She took the bag from me and threw it at her feet in the foot well in order to just get rid of me.
A few seconds later the car pulled off, and there in the road was the sweet packet, like an empty sugar-coated middle finger raised towards the middle class twit who had taken such offence to her simple littering.
Such things frustrate me. It is not some form of middle-aged middle class worthiness that drives me to confront the litterers of this world: I have always felt this way. It’s how I have been brought up. I recall being aghast at my contemporaries at primary school thinking nothing of dropping flecks of silver paper from their polo wrappers as they walked along the lanes in the morning. It just doesn’t seem right.
Equally, when walking the dogs the other day we were confronted by the infamous Lake Inferior down the road once again being the location for more tipping of various industrial waste. I have written before of how the glorified puddle was constructed from a fascinating array of filler material which included broken piping, building waste and even the drum of a concrete lorry. It is all perfectly landscaped now around the pond but near the gate is another pile of concrete and steel which has been dumped their by the owner prior to disposal somehow…probably in the ground somewhere in the vicinity.
This type of large-scale littering is a common occurrence here, and it seems that paying the occasional fine or simply having the ear of local planners is all you need to do to get your way. In the mean time I fear for what is happening to the ground water as the rain drains through the rubbish that is accumulating above and below ground. I am only grateful that I am not down hill from what is rapidly becoming a brown field site. But whether it is a sweet wrapper or the inconvenient remains of some building refurbishment they both demonstrate a lack of care for one’s surroundings, and an unwillingness to play one’s part in maintaining the environment.