Saturday June 19 2021



In Full . . .

We can lead the way over litter

Posted on November 02 2005 at 10:13:41

Years ago, in the mid 1970s I think, when I worked for a short while in New York, I noticed one day in Manhattan a man walking a dog on the busy pavement when the dog suddenly stopped and relieved itself.

The man promptly pulled out a bag and picked up the excrement and carried it with him whilst continuing to walk the dog.

Having never seen this practice before, it struck me as hilarious, bizarre, even barmy. Back home I occasionally mentioned this observation to friends who also thought it weird.

As we all know, gradually the idea caught on here, and now it is seen as a normal action by responsible and civilised dog owners, and those who do not clean up after their pets are seen as irresponsible.

The point of this parable is to illustrate how values and attitudes can change, for better or worse, but in this case for the better, and I wonder whether our attitude to litter in general could be modified for the benefit of all.

Many of us complain about litter and litter louts, and it seems to me that, just as with crime in general, we will never actually eradicate it, but we can take steps to reduce it.

Changing the attitude and behaviour of the litter lout may well be almost impossible, so why not tackle the problem in a different way?

Discussing the problem with one or two friends, it emerged that when they see litter in a public place they actually pick up some if not all of it and dispose of it properly. I have seen some people doing the same thing in Alvechurch.

Interestingly, I have started to do likewise, having come under the influence of common civil duty, and why not? In principle it’s easy, once one has overcome a bit of psychological resistance – it’s not my rubbish so why should I pick it up?

If only half the population were to follow suit, picking up just one piece of litter each time they walk to the car, the bus, the shops etc, it would have a significant effect.

Who knows, litter louts might gradually become inhibited about dropping litter in the first place.

Peter Cottrell, Alvechurch

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