What’s Going On Here?
As lockdown eases and the weather gets warmer, thousands of Brits have been enjoying the great outdoors (hilarious tan-lines ahoy!) – but at what cost to nature?
What Does This Mean?
Crowds of people have been gathering in public spaces since lockdown measures were eased across the UK. But the loosening of restrictions has meant that large parts of the countryside have been treated like a rubbish tip.
Things were so bad at Ogmore-by-Sea in Wales, that a young man from outside the area was compelled to travel 5 miles at the crack of dawn to collect litter left by revelers before it got washed out to sea. He collected 33 bin bags in total!
And it’s not just trash being left. In Kent, there were reports of people using the RNLI lifeboat station as a lavatory, as well as countless stories of people defecating on beaches and in beauty spots.
Councils have been blamed for not providing adequate facilities to accommodate the huge crowds. Whoever’s fault it is, it is the environment and local wildlife that will ultimately suffer.
Why Should We Care?
Discarded litter has a devastating effect on the wildlife and the local environment.
If glass and plastic are littered and not recycled it simply adds to our mounting waste problem. Runoff from litter, polluted water, gasoline and consumer waste can also infiltrate the soil and create a toxic water supply for wildlife and humans.
Drinks bottles are regular culprits and these can be especially dangerous for crabs, birds and small animals who may crawl into the bottles looking for food and water, and become stuck and slowly die from starvation and illness. The World Wide Fund for Nature reported some 1.5 million tons of plastic waste from the water bottling industry alone.
…and if this trash gets out to sea then it is adding to the ever-growing wasteland beneath the waves. According to Greenpeace, over two-thirds of the plastic in our oceans ends up on the seafloor. The damage can be physical — six-pack rings strangling marine life — or chemical — fertilisers causing algal blooms — but in either case, they can cause lasting damage to the flora and fauna of an area.
- If you think your local council could be doing more to mitigate overflowing bins and nasty litter, write to your councillors and tell them how you feel!
- Rather than hopelessly searching for a bin to place your plastic bottles, cans, and food cartons why not switch to a reusable alternative.
- It’s the start of plastic free July, and now is the perfect time to see how many plastic-free swaps you can make to reduce your consumption, as well as reducing litter in your local hood! Commit to the challenge here.
- And if this commitment isn’t enough, take a look at these charts (Courtesy @follow_this_way_maps) that show just how long it takes for items like loo roll and orange peel to decompose if left as litter: