There’s no excuse for being a Litterbug

Written for Rumage by Susie Hudson

If you looked at the carnage left behind in Bournemouth this week with horror and disbelief, you’ll probably be thinking the same as me… what possible excuse, reason or justification is there for disregarding, disrespecting and dismissing our beautiful planet in this way and who thinks it’s ok to leave their litter on the beach?  I learnt at a very early age, probably pre-school (and that was many years ago!), that the only thing you leave on a beach are your footprints.  I thought this was universally acknowledged, like picking up your dog’s poo (don’t get me started on that!) and whilst I could lament this issue for hours it did get me thinking… picnics and alfresco dining are essential summery institutions, so of course it’s no wonder that so many of us flock outdoors, but, apart from the glaringly obvious, what can we do to decrease our waste whilst enjoying this great British pastime?

An obvious starting point, if you’re not using reusable containers, food wraps and bottles, is to take a rubbish bag with you and just take your litter home, recycling what you can.  If you’re using the car, this light weight rubbish bag is perfect; it’s water resistant, foldable and environmentally friendly.

Reusable food containers, wraps and bags are now readily available and with so many stylish designs to choose from you really are spoilt for choice!

I don’t know anyone that doesn’t own a reusable water bottle, but if you’re still buying plastic bottles, please reconsider.  Reusable bottles’ now come in a variety of sizes and designs, so with so much choice there really is one for every budget.  Likewise, with your coffee cup; many takeaway coffee cups aren’t actually recyclable, as more often than not they’re lined with polyethylene to prevent leakage.  Even if the products in your coffee cup are 100% recyclable, chances are it’ll be thrown in the general rubbish bin anyway, so with many outlets (well-known chains and independents) incentivising you for using your own there’s never been a better time to invest in a reusable cup.

Easy as One, Two, Three

If picnicking isn’t your thing, what can you do if you choose takeout?  Well for a start use your own reusable containers, by taking your own you’re avoiding additional and forever-lasting waste that is often and sadly mistaken for food.  You could try to find places that avoid Styrofoam packaging, due to its chemical composition Styrofoam is notoriously bad for the environment because it never fully breaks down, and, although encouragingly many places no longer use them, if you do come across plastic straws always say no.

The reality is, we can eat outside without leaving anything more than our footprints and with the increased availability and ingenuity of recyclable and reusable products and the significant reduction in their cost, there really is no excuse not to.  To coin a phrase I heard yesterday, “Don’t be mean, keep our beaches clean!”  Let’s all be part of the solution.

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