Ateliers Verts®


What a Load of Rubbish

  • by Andrew Levy
  • 3 min read

It seems incredulous that millions of people in the UK claim that they care about the environment. They say they want clean beaches and parks. They say that they care about the wildlife on the land, in the rivers and in the sea. They are fans of David Attenborough and admire his desire to clean up our planet.

So how come, every time there is a bit of good weather, the British countryside ends up looking like a rubbish tip when the visitors have gone?

(Image Source: The Mirror - Durdle Door- 3 June 2020)

It's obvious- they couldn't really care less - just so long as they can enjoy the outdoors. The problem is that they don't realise where this rubbish will end up. Overflowing bins by the river and rubbish discarded in the river eventually wash out to sea. Rubbish left on beaches will blow out to sea or be washed out to sea.

(Image Source: Mr AV - River Thames rubbish- Sept 2019)

But this phenomena is weird and out of step with the UK as a nation, as it ranks 6th in the World for its Environmental Performance Index (2018 Study). London is building a Super-Sewer and the UK has one of the World's largest offshore wind farms, to name but a few positive initiatives.

We are a relatively densely populated country of around 67m people and we do have space constraints on waste, so we need to better on recycling:

(Image Source: DEFRA Report 19 March 2020)

The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) report released on 19 March 2020 (above) shows that there really has been little improvement in the UK Statistics on Household waste since 2015. 

We'd like to know why the UK has different household recycling policies for each borough and city. Why can we recycle our milk cartons in Hammersmith & Fulham borough in London, whereas Elmbridge Bororgh in Surrey which is a few miles away doesn't recycle them - so they end up in landfill. Bonkers! It's obviously a financial, logistical and budgetary/efficiency issue but we are sure a national policy will put us all on the same page and make us more efficient.

We have to make it easier for households to recycle and to encourage manufacturers to use less packaging, or at the very least make the packaging biodegradable, compostable or reusable.

(Image Source: Mr AV, Thames Towpath London- June 2020)

When we see an overflowing bin we shouldn't try and cram more in- just take it home or dispose of it in an emptier bin. 

When we go into the countryside for a day out- we should take everything that we bring with us, away with us when we leave - even the cigarette butts and chewing gum! and dispose of the waste when we get home, not where we were visiting. (Imagine the situation was reversed and lots of country-folk decided to come to the city and picnic in our local urban park and leave their rubbish on our doorstep!) If we all tidied up after ourselves and even picked up the litter of others we could keep the UK pristine for humans to enjoy and the wildlife to thrive.

I guess the aim of effective rubbish management really is to #MinimiseOurHumanFootprint. 

© Ateliers Verts Ltd. June 2020

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