Litter Strewn Northumberland - What Have We Become?
Published by Q Field-Boden
For months if not years now I have become increasingly horrified about the state of what used to be beautiful countryside as it slowly but surely becomes little more than a public rubbish dump. At one time to take a drive or bicycle ride in Northumberland was a real pleasure but now such trips are frequently spoiled or at least degraded by the almost constant presence of discarded litter.
This litter takes may forms but for the most part it is made up of plastic bottles, cans, glass bottles, fast food cartons, disposable coffee cups, cigarette packets and a surprisingly high number of empty tablet packages ranging from painkillers to anti-depressants. We can only wonder at what passes through the minds of those who toss this junk out of their vehicles rather than disposing of it properly, maybe they think it's clever, maybe they just don't think at all.
In order to give some sort of quantification to this litter sampling exercise I measured the length of the section of verge I collected the rubbish from, I did this using a wrist mounted GPS. I only collected litter from one side of the road because of time constraints and the distance was 0.23 miles, or pretty much exactly 400 yards. I took me just under four minutes to walk the length of the segment at my normal walking pace, this was NOT a long segment of road by any stretch of the imagination. Here is a link to a map which shows in red the exact stretch of road where this litter collection took place.
At the end of the collection period I had collected eight bags of rubbish, I was staggered, it was truly shocking. This means that with the road segment being 400 yards in length I was collecting TWO bags of rubbish from the verge per 100 metres! When I got home I took some short video clips of the bags and then emptied them out to properly illustrate the volume of rubbish that I had collected, the video is shown below.
Surely it cannot be right for us as a society to accept this sort of filth as "normal"? Surely if we are completely powerless to stop people depositing their rubbish in this way, which we seem to be, then at the very least something needs to be done to clear at least the worst of it up before the problem becomes simply too large to tackle, if it isn't already.
This whole experience left me very saddened as I realised that the problem was in fact far worse than I thought it was, I foolishly thought I might just need one bag to pick the area clean, there was just so much more there that I thought there was. It seems to me that it is only a matter of time before our once lovely countryside is completely ruined by the plagues of littering and fly-tipping. It's noteworthy that we never seem to see a scrap of litter in Downing Street on the TV or around the Palace of Westminster, for many reasons our elected representatives seem to occupy a completely different world.
I guess the best we can hope for now is for willing (daft) volunteers to keep doing what they can and for their local councils to at least help and support them. My job would have been made a lot easier and safer if I had the correct equipment for the job. I had to provide my own black bags and now I have the job of taking those full bags to the local tip, how ironic would it be if under the new charging regime at the tip I was told that I had to pay to dispose of them!
It will be interesting to see whether I hear back from anyone in local government, if I do I will post an update.
Random musings of a UK based cycling coach. In July 2010 rode the entire Tour de France route starting and finishing 3 days before the pros came through, particularly interested in power based training. Other interests include technology, video recording and editing, photography, sailing, the outdoor life and pretty much anything else!