by Emma Powell
I have been meaning to write a blog for quite some time but time is something I’m often short of. Some might say litter is a passion of mine and after years of litter picking and reading research, I consider myself to be knowledgeable of the psychology and behaviour behind littering.
I founded the Castle Point Clean Up Crew in August 2019, shortly after my appointment as a Litter Hero Ambassador for Keep Britain Tidy. Since then the group has grown in a way I never could have anticipated with volunteers across Castle Point litter picking their streets and local areas, as well as taking part in organised group picks when Covid-19 restrictions.
Whilst types of litter and behaviours can vary from place to place, the common trend is always the littering of particular items. Keep Britain Tidy conducted a survey in 2020 which found that 75% of items littered in the UK are single use drinking receptacles whether that be aluminium cans, plastic bottles or Costa Coffee cups. Castle Point is no exception to this rule. But why is this? I can’t help that feel that our culture, our economy and even our society is driven by an underlying ethos that nothing has value – items are cheaply mass produced, usually from plastic and then discarded just as quickly as they are ‘used’. Hence the single use item is so easily litter don the ground.
What those who litter and consume in this manner, fail to comprehend or even consider is the resources that have been used to create that item (embodied resources) or the greenhouse gases produced from the factory (embodied CO2e) that are part of the climate crisis we currently face. Then when that item is discarded, where does it go? Chances are it’ll most likely go to landfill or swept into our ocean or even get buried in the ground. I’ve found crisp packets and aluminium cans dating to the 1980s and 1990s in some cases. Rarely will they get recycled or reused. It’s awful to think that all of those resources were used for one item to be discarded so easily without a thought.
Our litter epidemic we currently face as a borough and indeed a country is not just thoughtlessness but a consequence of how we use the earth’s resources. We need to change that mindset on how our society and our economy is shaped. Litter and waste is just the tip of the iceberg.
For more information, or to join, please check out the Castle Point Clean-up Crew facebook page