Most of our councils do a wonderful job. However, often litter-strewn areas that are not cleaned up lay in that state for weeks, months or years. But often it is indeed the council that is responsible for cleaning it up – even if it did not create the litter in the first place (that’s why people pay Council Tax). If it’s on public land – usually litter is the responsibility of the council to clean up. Some also do daft things like hiring gardeners to use mowers and strimmers on grass verges before litter is cleaned up, meaning plastic is shred into shards to then scatter everywhere. Also see how to prevent cigarette litter and tips to clean up road litter.
- Report litter to your local council. The odd piece of litter dropped today or yesterday may not be due to inefficiency. But if you see roads and parks strewn with litter with days, weeks or months on end, then yes someone needs to act. Also report to Fix My Street, where reports (and photos) are made public. This often forces councils to act, especially if many people complaint about the same area.
- For private land, they can serve Litter Abatement Orders if people refuse to act, if the litter is causing danger. Quote The Environmental Protection Act 1990.
- If you see litter that has not been collected for a while, ask why. Bins should be emptied daily, and councils should employ enough staff to rid the streets of litter daily. There is enough money to do this (clean streets bring more tourism income).
- Ask your council to install more bins. Often people want to dispose of litter, but it’s miles to the nearest bin. Councils are often guilty of not collecting dog waste bins (or not installing them) if they are ‘out of the way’. People often forget dog poop bags, so the best stations include biodegradable bags so that if people forget, they can use one. It’s still cheaper than sending someone out to collect dog poop, which can cause blindness to pets and children.
- Many people want Royal Mail to be fined for littering too. They refuse to act on plastic bands. But again if they were fined £80 every time elastic bands were dropped on the pavement, they would soon change policy (not the fault of the posties).
- Vote in councillors who do something about it. If you live in an area filled with old litter, why is your local councillor or MP not on the case? He or she must know the law, so should be badgering the local council to get something done immediately.
- Bag Snaggers are telescopic tools to safely remove bags from rivers (without falling in) and bags snagged on trees. Garbo Grabber make good bags with reusable nets and collapsible reachers. The Helping Hand Company sells litter-grabbing tools, reusable gloves and sharps boxes and litter kits for volunteer groups.
If all the litter dropped in the UK was not dropped, this would save the taxpayer £1 billion a year. Choose what you would like this money to pay for instead (source: GD Environmental):
- Over 38,000 social care workers
- Run almost 4,500 libraries
- Pay for over 30,000 NHS nurses
- Pay for over 25,000 paramedics
- Fund over 30,000 extra firefighters