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Paxman’s war on waste: “The fault, dear Brutus, is in ourselves” February 27, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled,Online journalism — Kellie Maddox @ 2:52 pm

I read a cynical and unsurprisingly dry piece from Jeremy Paxman entitled ‘Litter: our legacy to future generations’ and I have to say I largely agree with him that we are becoming a nation of litter bugs with an “everyone for himself” attitude. And it’ll be future generations that will suffer as a result.

What I find myself disagreeing with though is Paxman’s finger-pointing at food manufacturer’s:

And what does Coca-Cola say by way of apology? A company spokesman “acknowledges” the report. How very gracious of him. He goes on to blather that its bottles “carry the Tidy Man and Recycle Now logos”. Well, that should do it.

There is more fatuous wittering from McDonald’s, which even has the nerve to attempt a tone of wronged outrage, saying that “in 2009 we spent over £2m on staff labour alone” picking up ­litter. That’s £2m out of a turn­over of more than £2bn in Britain.

Ok, so there’s a certain level of responsibility manufacturer’s have in where their packaging ends up but how are they supposed to stop thoughtless litter-droppers discarding cans and packets onto the street?

He then says:

What can we do? Local councils are supposed to have a statutory duty to clear up litter, but are largely useless. Ditto the national government. The fault, dear Brutus, is in ourselves. At least future generations won’t lack evidence of the kind of people we were.

Maybe a  more pro-active attitude might help instead of residing in the thought that we will one day be consumed by our own rubbish. Groups like Litter Heroes are setting the example we should all be following. No-one expects you to go litter picking in your weekend leisure time – if we all take responsibility for our own rubbish, organisations like them would not need to clear up behind us.

And (cue personal pet-hate) it really annoys me when people point the finger at youngsters. Ok, so I’ve seen lots of kids drop litter but I’ve also seen more adults throw it out of cars windows or drop it on the street (often just feet away from a bin). Great example to set and no comeback when kids copy.

Any suggestions as to what can actually be done about this? If councils aren’t picking litter (or even if they are), how can people be targeted to take responsibility for their actions? Litter fines – is this the best way to go about it?


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