If we all love living in Wanstead as much as we say we do, then we all need to do more about the litter problem. It’s not the council’s job to clear up what we can’t be bothered to, says Jennie O’Beirne
Redbridge Council’s ‘Don’t be a tosser’ anti-litter campaign may be a bit crude for upmarket Wanstead – and it is certainly low profile – but the message is important. Litter is a huge problem, with more waste than ever being produced globally. The volume of dropped waste is an eyesore and has knock-on effects.
If you don’t really see litter as a problem, try taking a short walk anywhere and consciously look for it. You won’t get far before you see rubbish thrown ‘away’. But there is no ‘away’; it’s all still out there somewhere! And it will affect you whether you ignore it or not. That beer bottle someone discarded can easily smash, leaving glass shards for your dog to walk on. That dropped sweet wrapper can blow around until it eventually finds its way into a drain, adding to blockages that increase the chances of your home being flooded. That thrown-away takeaway attracts rats and diseases. It’s no easier to ignore if you’re driving – look at Redbridge Roundabout and see the piles of litter thrown from cars.
Plastic bottles take around 450 years to break down, drinks cans take 100 years, takeaway coffee cups take 30 years and plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years! They all cause massive litter problems and they are everywhere. The rubbish we are surrounded by comes from the general public, not factories or industry, so we only have ourselves to blame.
We can’t constantly blame the council for the problem of litter. Yes, the bin men can be a bit careless sometimes, but it’s easy to take responsibility for the rubbish outside our own doorsteps and clean up our streets and pick up rubbish when we see it. Everyone has a bin in their house. We all have multiple bins outside our houses and all around Wanstead. There are rubbish bins on most main street corners and in the parks. There are 11 rubbish bins on the High Street between The George and Gail’s alone. So why is there still rubbish on the ground there? If a bin is full, any overflow will just blow ‘away’ and cause a problem. Empty packaging weighs nothing to take home to your own bin. Landfill isn’t ideal, but it’s better than ending up in our waterways and then in the sea.
Do schools teach the problem of littering? Do parents make sure their children don’t litter? Do children make sure their parents and grandparents don’t litter? Do you pick up litter when you see it? Would you ask someone to pick up their litter if you saw them drop it?
It’s not OK to drop your litter on the street. It’s not OK to throw your litter out of your car window. It’s not OK to litter! Despite the kindness of a few local litter pickers, the problem is far bigger than they can handle, so we all need to take action. Let’s take responsibility for the rubbish all around us and make Wanstead clean again.
For details of community litter pick events in Wanstead and Wanstead Park, visit wnstd.com/events