Sustainability action 3: picking up rubbish

A dead mouse in a bottle was a graphic reminder how discarded rubbish harms wildlife.

Animals like this Colchester rabbit are at risk of harm from discarded rubbish.

Animals like this Colchester rabbit are at risk of harm from discarded rubbish.

An individual can take sustainable action by not taking energy out of the environment such as by using solar power; they can put energy back into the environment by planting trees; or they can repair damage to energy systems by eliminating disruptions like removing discarded rubbish.

I walked to an ancient nature park called Hilly Fields in Colchester armed with two bags to pick up rubbish.  The discarding of rubbish does harm to the animals, plants and the environment they depend upon.  In Britain we have a Queen, who resides mostly at Buckingham Palace in London; on Hilly Fields is the former royal palace of the first recorded King of Britain, called Cunobelin, recognised and recorded as such by the Roman Emperors from the time of Emperor Augustus.  The Queen has no trouble with litter at Buckingham Palace, but at Hilly Fields it is a different story.  Whilst Hilly Fields was reasonably clean, I still came away with two full bags of rubbish.

As a graphic reminder of the harm rubbish does to wildlife I came across a discarded glass bottle. Poking out of the end of this bottle was the head of a dead mouse.  The mouse had got into the bottle, became trapped, and died.  Less than five metres away from the bottle with the dead mouse was a litter bin.  I was angry.  A lazy, ignorant, careless human being had rather than using the litter bin steps away had thrown the bottle on the ground, a living creature paid for that carelessness with its life.  All actions have consequences; small may be our actions, thoughts and words, large can be the impact.

A few hundred yards from the dead mouse Druids from two thousand years ago had buried a cauldron, known as the Sheepen Cauldron in honour to their earth goddess.  These Druids would be horrified if they knew how their Colchester descendants treat the earth, the very location where they walked with respect, by dumping rubbish across it, leading to pollution of the ground and the death of animals.  Those who live in the modern age tend to view our ancestors as backward savages, but I wondered who really is the backward savage.

I find my sustainable actions open doors to other activities.  After returning home I wrote an e-mail to my local Colchester councillors asking for signs to be put up in all Colchester nature parks telling people to take their rubbish home with them.  A letter is planned for the local newspaper.

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17 responses to “Sustainability action 3: picking up rubbish

  1. You may want to suggest to the council that the signs include a monetary fine for anyone caught. We have them here in all our public parks. Maybe it will make some idiot think twice. I do find however, that people like us, encouraging others with our actions, and even telling people to pick up thier rubbish when we see them litter makes more of a difference. Even if we have to deal with a little confrontation from the ignorant once in a while. It’s well worth it if it makes them think twice or changes thier behaviour.

    • Colchester has a small army of officials who can issue instant fines to people who drop litter. You are right that mentioning the problems of litter will make a difference.

  2. Well done/ I find this inspiring and very interesting. I will be back and i hope you will visit my blog.

  3. No one should go out of their own home without a trash bag, even a small one. Mark and I go to the beach quite often armed with big bags and pickers, or grabbers, so we don’t have to bend or squat more than our knees or backs allow. I’m quite skilled at picking up even the tiniest things with my grabber. Only the heavy or waterlogged trash gets picked up directly by hand.
    Interestingly enough, as more people see you do it, you’ll receive more thanks from them, and perhaps they will think and act of their own will, and do the right things, which of course, is to not be an inconsiderate boob and perhaps even to join in. :D

    • Hi seapunk2, well done on keeping your beaches clear. The ocean is full of rubbish that must find its way to your shores. One win aspect of this is that you sometimes find useful and even valuable items washed up.

  4. Excellent, Alex. I can feel your rage. My little trash collector (you know we regularly walk around our neighborhood to pick up litter) would approve. My five-year-old is completely baffled by the behavior of those who litter. He always asks me, “why can’t they just throw it in the garbage can?” I honestly don’t have an answer for him.

    • I salute you and your son on your efforts to keep your neighbourhood clean. I am as baffled as you and your son about the laziness of people who cannot use the garbage can, especially when so many are provided in an area. I have made it an aim to eliminate litter from Hilly Fields in Colchester over time.

  5. I wish more people would contribute to their environment, and see the damage done, I often carry a plastic bag with me on my walks and pick up plastic bottles people have been too lazy to carry home and dumped in the hedgerow… It only takes a little thought from everyone and “we CAN make a difference”

    • As I walk around my town of Colchester I am aware of the discarded litter. As a tourist town I am embarrassed that visitors must see this litter.

      I consider that by doing what we do in picking up litter we set an example to others that they may follow what they see we do.

      • I so hope so Alex… but some do not see further than their noses… Its up to us to open up their eyes and make them see what ‘We’ have become in the material realm where we buy and throw away.. I have a video I wish to share will be right back and you may have already seen it, but for me it is still as powerful today as when it was made… will be back :-)

      • Be the source of ripples of change in the world through setting examples… this is how change for the better is positive. Thanks for the link.

      • the Link with blessings

      • Thank you for this link. I had seen it, but as before seeing it again refreshed my memory of its powerful impact. This speaker spoke for all children, a useful reminder that as stewards we owe it to future generations to leave a legacy of a world that is worth living in. In decisions the decision maker has forgotten about taking into account the future generations in their decision making.

  6. I can’t stand litterbugs and people who don’t recycle. I am so ashamed of my fellow man when I see trash bins full of recyclable items, and the litter is everywhere in this city. Having once worked in a warehouse that had a lot of mice living in it, I found the traps they set to be quite cruel, effectively trapping the mouse inside where many would die, or later be drowned by one of my coworkers. I never told anyone my feelings about this, and quite often would catch and release the mice outdoors, which was quite easy as they got into everything. I don’t know how they fared outside, only that I knew I would rather that than drown or die of dehydration and insanity.

    • I share the same feelings as you about those who fail to recycle, and the lazy who drop litter expecting others to clean up after them. Your humanity towards the mice is commendable. I have released animals from traps in the past too.

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