Plastic, not fantastic

Normally driving through England in the spring is a delight with trees and hedgerows bursting into the delicate greens of new growth soon to be followed by the blossom of the early-flowering species.  But this year has been different—or at least I noticed it as different.


Plastic has taken over.  Even in deeply rural North Yorkshire the trees and hedges are festooned with the wretched stuff and the verges are a sea of abandoned crisp packets, cans and bottles.  More populous areas are even worse.  I stopped at one lay-by on the A1 in the East Midlands which can only be described as disgusting.  There was a small litter bin but it had clearly been full a long time and there was more rubbish round it than in it.


Presumably litter works like graffiti; ignore it and it becomes the norm dragging the whole area down into a slum.  Is that really what we want for England’s formerly green and pleasant land?  Will the tourist industry soon have to advertise “Visit our slummy Country”?


Coincidentally (or perhaps not) CPRE has just started a ‘Stop the Drop’ campaign.  Apparently the amount of litter has increased by 500% since the sixties and is 70% food-related; the general level has dropped from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘unsatisfactory’ over the last 12 months by the Government’s own measure and litter now costs over £500 million pa to clean up (not including public parks).  It is one of the public’s top concerns as evidenced by opinion polls and letters to councillors and MPs.


Picking the stuff up after the event is sadly necessary, but hardly sufficient.  Is it time to legislate for a (say) 10p deposit on convenience and take-away food and drink packaging (yes, including crisp packets) unless it is rapidly biodegradable?  And of course bring in that plastic bag tax the Government can’t quite seem to get round to.



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