If you ever ask, like me, what the world is coming to and why on earth is there so much rubbish all around us, then you’re in good company. Those who’ve truly changed the world, like Martin Luther King campaigning for civil rights or William Wilberforce on the abolition of slavery, have been inspired by an awareness of what was wrong in their society and a willingness to do something about it.
My campaign started one morning when I was writing a huge long tirade about all the problems out there. However, I got to about 1000 words and suddenly was struck by the question: “what am I actually doing about it?” I realised the appalling answer was very little and the place to start was right at the bottom, a root and branch reform. So, my gaze fell on litter and I started to think what we could do.
Firstly, we cannot just rely on Local Councils. In these financially tight times, they cannot afford to spend millions in a vast, bureaucratic top-down cleansing exercise. Even if education efforts worked overnight, there would still be heaps of junk out there, wrecking our environment.
However, we can take action. For example, I frequently go out with garden gloves (cost one or two quid) and some of the many plastic bags that pile-up around our homes, picking-up whatever litter I find. Just cleaning-up a little bit where I can has a made real difference. Added benefits include enjoying fresh air, exercise and a sense of achievement. Moreover, if you’re looking for a job, you could use this on your CV as employers like to see people who take initiative, have a sense of responsibility and actually care about what’s happening in the world. You can register interest and be encouraged at www.litteraction.org.uk/. Keep listening out for community events as it’s best to work together.
Depending on your personality, you could get together with a group of friends and enjoy some on-the-job banter, or plug yourself into some upbeat music on the move. Start where you are and do whatever you can. Obviously, we all have different amounts of physical strength and varying demands on our time, so no-one has the right to judge anyone else for what they do. I know there’s plenty of other issues and opportunities to serve wherever you are, so please be encouraged to make the most of whatever chances you have.
Don’t forget if you see someone dropping litter, you can tell them politely but firmly to stop. It’s totally unacceptable behaviour and needs to be stamped out. There’s no excuse, but some people are ignorant and need reminding of the facts. Indeed, litter-louts can be fined £50 on the spot for their crime and trying to clean-up some of the mess left costs £65 million every year in Scotland. That’s enough to employ 21,655 workers at a wage of £30,000!
There are also clear laws in place that require Local Councils, Network Rail, businesses and landowners to deal with significant accumulations of litter (see http://www.keepscotlandtidy.org/documents/Leaflet-LitterAndTheLawInScotland.pdf). Councils can be contacted and encouraged to liaise with other stakeholders to clean-up properties.
Look out for local charities to support that educate young people and re-engage them with their local landscapes – http://www.earthtime.co.uk being an example in my patch of the woods.
Keep networking and looking for opportunities to flag-up what people can do, as well as being quick to congratulate folks for doing what their bit. Only everyone (or a critical mass) working together will bring a solution to the problems we face. Remember, the battle can be won because we have (I believe most supremely in Christ Jesus): faith that good is stronger than evil, hope that people can change and be transformers, and love that stoops to the most menial tasks and has compassion on those who do not know these truths. So, that’s why I will always Jesus as higher, greater, better, purer than all other contenders, who might grasp a part, but are still to see the whole.
You know, there’s a wonderful true story in the Bible that God – after sending the Flood – hung his bow in the sky as a sign of His covenant promise to never again send such devastation. Instead, God promised His Son who would come as the Saviour and Lord of all who believe in His Name.