Tuesday, 14 April 2015

I caught a litter bug

As I run around my neighbouring suburbs, I see litter everywhere. And yet there are many, many bins along sidewalks.

There's a park that I run through often either on my way out or my way home. It used to be a mine dump that they re-mined a good 20 years ago. As a kid I just thought it was a hill and I used to fly down its slopes in a cardboard box. Now it is a lovely open piece of grassy ground with a bit of a reed-encircled pond at the one end - evidently a section just below the water table. Birds and frogs are abundant.

Yesterday evening I was out on a run. My mom was with me, riding her bike. Reaching the exit of the park, I stopped to wait for her. Two attractive women approached. I heard the taller of the two opening a wrapper of something and as she put the cookie into her mouth she dropped the wrapper on the ground.

If there's one way to make my blood boil in an instant, it is to see someone littering. I rarely have the pleasure of catching offenders in action but when I do...

I pointed to the wrapper and said, "You've just dropped your litter on the ground. I think you should pick it up and put it in the bin. This park looks like it does because of people like you."

She did pick it up, looked daggers at me and proceeded out of the park and across the road. I shouted after her, "There's a bin on your left, you can put it in there".

She didn't and I'm quite certain that she would have dropped it again a little further on.

Here's the kicker. The two women work at a school up the road. They were wearing jerseys embroidered with the school's logo. Whether teachers or other staff, I don't know, but it did mean that I headed home with a bounce in my step, an email already writing itself in my mind.

This is a public park and it is used as a thoroughfare, cutting out a lot of distance that would have to be walked around big blocks without it, and for recreation. There are a bunch of friendly soccer players who use the part a few evenings a week, there's a guy who practices his golf and I've seen people walking their dogs. And I run through the park, delighting in the open space and changes with the seasons.

Green - the route taken by the women; red 'x' - site of offence; blue - the park
Of course, littering is rife. People passing through drop bags of trash, random wrappers and even old furniture occasionally. Every time I run through the park (most days) I fantasise about spending the day sitting on the nearby rise with a paintball gun, shooting offenders that I catch red handed.

Despite the municipality cleaning up regularly, the park is in need of a really good cleanse and I cannot think of anything better than mobilising the school (staff and students), which is located less than one kilometre away, to do a clean up in the park.

I can't believe that an expensive private school with Herbert Baker architecture, beautiful grounds and extensive sport and cultural activities condones littering and the disrespect of the environment and public places that comes with it. They surely teach environmental awareness and provide bins on their property for trash.

That this woman dropped her wrapper without hesitation... That she is a regular litter bug, I have no doubt. If she has children, she has probably taught this behaviour to them. And her family are certainly litter bugs too - she had to learn this from somewhere. Catching one litter bug in action is so much more than just one person dropping one piece of paper.

I've written to the school, described the women (the friend is, for me, just as guilty because she didn't say anything to the litter bug and is probably one herself!), and suggested a clean-up (which I'll assist in coordinating), with the offenders participating too.

I am awaiting a response.

Litter is a HUGE problem. It is unsightly, dirty and totally unnecessary. What I saw yesterday is unacceptable and what a blessing (for me!) that these women can be identified and be reminded of right from wrong. She knew. That she didn't care is the greater problem. It is the problem not just in this park and with this incident. It is a problem in this country where too many people do not care.

Fortunately, some of us do.


Judith said...

Hey adventurous Lisa, glad to hear you are taking action to do something against littering in your city! Are there any updates yet, has the school replied?

adventurelisa said...

Hi Judith,

The next day the school responded to say they would investigate.

Early this week I sent a message to find out the results of their investigation.

This was their reply:

"The staff member did come forward and the appropriate action has been taken.

We have also once again addressed all learners, staff and parents on environmental concerns.

Once again thank you for assisting us with this matter.

Very polite and seems like they've taken action.

I did reply to say that I hoped they'd consider my suggestion of a school community initiative to do a thorough clean up at the school. No response on this.