A recent face book post of a friend repeated “Stop being offended by Facebook Posts, by a piece of art, by people displaying affection, by what someone said to you. Be offended by war, poverty, greed, injustice. Keep it real” As I read this, I was walking along the disused railway track near my home, being offended by the litter that was spoiling the environment around me.
My initial response was to feel guilty about my indignation which was at that point surpassing any strength of feeling about the world critical issues that I was being pointed at. And I commented to that effect.
But I DO get offended by litter. I just can’t understand the disrespect for the landscapes or townscapes that bring me such pleasure from day to day. I struggle to enjoy the beauty when my eyes are drawn to the discarded dregs of consumerism that flaw the scene before me. I think that is one of the reasons that I enjoy taking my camera around with me and capturing the scene minus the spoilers.
And therefore, on a day in which national newspaper headlines declared my home town as the murder capital of Great Britain (now there is something to get offended about) the 40Acts #3 challenge to litter pick or clean up an area near your home felt right up my street. It being my day off work, and with a podcast to listen to and a fit bit to keep happy, a happier combination of tasks for the day I could not envisage. My biggest problem was going to be to create a time slot as the day’s activities were already focussed on preparing a dinner party for eight that evening.
By early afternoon I set out with gloves and a big black bag, taking a familiar walking route with a view to stopping as soon as I felt offended and doing something to retrieve the situation. Barely 500m from home, and I had found my clean up spot. The more I picked up, the closer I zoomed in to the extent of the task and from sweet wrappers to wine bottles, everything went in the bag.
My haul, after an hour and a half of moderate labour, included:
- a plethora of McDonalds paper cups, straws lids and plastic spoons
- numerous sweet and biscuit wrappers scattered along the verge within car window range
- Unidentifiable paper and plastic products in various states of decay
- Plastic drinks bottles, some containing rather gloopy semi liquid contents
- Beer and wine bottles and some broken glass
- Supermarket carrier bags
- Cigarette butts
- One condom packet
- One pen
- Four sawn through bicycle locks
- Packaging from recreational drugs
I lugged the black bag home with me pausing to survey the sight of the area I had cleared, and satisfied that at least at 3.40 pm on Friday 21st February 2015, there was not a spec of litter in sight along the short path from under Longholme Bridge to the bottom of Newnham Avenue. What remains lurking under the bushes is another story.
An aspect of the litter picking that I hadn’t anticipated was the opportunity it gave to gain an insight into what is really going on just metres from my front door. I briefly considered the possibility that rather than being the murder capital of the UK, Bedford was more likely to be the bike theft capital of the UK.
Sadly, I feel unable to commit to keeping this area litter free. But I will continue to sign up for the local council run litter picks when ever I can.
Thank you 40Acts for Friday’s challenge.