CAUTION: Grade A, full on, rant ahead. Readers of a nervous disposition may wish to look away now
Hmm, I thought to myself this morning as I spied a young man carrying a banana skin in an oh-so-nonchalant way, I wonder what you’re going to do with that? Sure enough, when I emerged from the underpass having locked up my bike, there was the banana skin, sans young man – not lying spread out on the floor a la classic comedy sketch of the 1930s – but neatly placed on top of a bin. The bin in question belongs to a local cafe who quite understandably like to have room to throw their own rubbish away at the end of the day, so they wedge the lid of the bin down under something heavy. Of course that doesn’t stop people putting things on top of it – or specifically it doesn’t stop those people who consider that their obligation not to litter ends as soon as it has been made inconvenient for them to throw things away properly and who think that putting litter neatly on top of something is somehow better than simply chucking it over their shoulder
Maybe it’s my age but this is beginning to get my goat immoderately. Consider the banana. When you pick up a banana to eat on your way to the station, were you really thinking that you might eat the skin afterwards? Or did you think that the banana skin might somehow conveniently evaporate from your hands the minute you no longer had any use for it? London does not have a lot of litter bins, granted, but that’s not some sudden new policy. It’s been like that for almost a year, longer in some cases. Meanwhile, I would bet that every single household in London has a surplus collection of plastic bags big enough to hold most of the litter currently floating around in our streets, or neatly placed on top of bins outside long suffering local businesses. Surely one or two of them can be pressed into service as containers for your own litter temporarily until you do find a bin to put it in? Sure banana skins are horrible smelly objects to carry around with you – but how do think the person who picks it up after you feels about it? You were happy enough to carry it when it had a banana in it. It’s not as though it has suddenly turned into toxic waste.
Grrrr. I recently climbed up a mountain to a beautiful remote lake surrounded by mist and heather, a place so quiet you could hear the sheep eating. And when I got there, all I could see were discarded tissues – along the last part of the path and scattered about the grassy bank where I had planned to sit and admire the view. Yes, there are no litter bins up mountains. No, that doesn’t make it okay to throw your disgusting snot rags there. And no, just because they are biodegradable doesn’t make it any better. Even a tissue takes an age to rot down. And meanwhile other walkers in search of peace of mind and tranquility are left instead with a faint sense of nausea.
The thing that really bugs me about this* is that the people doing this sort of littering are exactly the kind that tut when they see other sorts of littering, blatant littering like things thrown from cars or kids dropping sweet packets as they walk along. But the minute they have something in their hand which they no longer want to carry, and there’s no bin, or no bin in sight anyway, or there’s a bin but they’d have to cross the road to get to it, down it goes. Neatly placing it doesn’t make it not litter you know. Taking it home and disposing of it properly makes it not litter.
Phew. Rant over. Can you tell I’ve got a bit of a headache?
* And as you can tell it really, really bugs me.