A load of rubbish.

A sad sight in any park is litter. This morning I noticed a Coke can embedded in a block of ice. There it lay, eventually destined to be pressed into the earth (were it not for my intervention) where it would stay for the next few hundred years.

Used once, life expectancy: 500 years.

Used once, life expectancy: 500 years.

We marvel today at Roman ruins that are buried several feet underground and wonder how this happened. The secret is that over the years, people threw waste where they liked. Back then, it was largely organic and when mixed in with the occasional broken crockery eventually became part of the soil. Nowadays, most organic waste ends up in the sewer while our garbage is metal or plastic and does not break down easily.

Plastic bottles - the triumph of marketing over need.

Plastic bottles – the triumph of marketing over need.

Soft drink corporations have lobbied hard to ensure that there is no deposit paid on bottles or cans. They surely know that many of their empty containers end up as litter but are unwilling to be good corporate citizens as this would cost money. Corporate money pays for political campaigns so we all know the chances of anything being done by politicians.

A tarp from a building site wraps around a tree.

A tarp from a building site wraps around a tree.

Adapting the broken window theory, it’s easy to see that litter attracts more litter. Unfortunately, this view is not shared by our park managers. They seem to wait until litter has reached a certain level before sending out a crew to clean it up. Most of us will pick up a can or two and drop it in a garbage can but things like tarps are likely there for keeps without council intervention.

At least this coffee cup is made of paper.

At least this coffee cup is made of paper.

Litter is a big threat to parks – not just aesthetically but things like plastic bags and can holders are detrimental to wildlife. It’s up to park users to ensure that we clean up after ourselves (and occasionally others). It should also become a higher priority for park managers.

 

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