(Last Updated On: 27th April 2011)

As some of you might know I recently got a puppy.  I now spend hours walking the streets, parks and beaches of our beautiful city. 

I’ve always been a stickler for litter on the streets; it spoils the environment for so many people. I can’t see why people don’t use bins?  There are public bins on every commercial street and big communal bins on residential streets, so there is always a bin near to hand.

Since I got Poppy (the puppy), my resentment against litter has intensified.  I’ve picked out of Poppy’s mouth all sorts of litter. This morning she swallowed a dirty serviette whole, rather than take the piece of sausage I tried to bribe her with.   

I live and work in an area which has many shops, bars, cafes, restaurants and other office based businesses.  And the litter I find on the street is dropped by the people using these businesses. 

I believe that as a business we have a responsibility to ensure the environment in which we operate is not negatively impacted by our trade.  I understand that we pay council tax and business rates so the council can send out street sweepers (who come down the road almost every day, but still can’t keep the streets clear due to the volume of rubbish).  

But does that mean we can neglect our responsibility?

I’d also argue that in these times of cuts in public spending, I’d rather the council save money spent cleaning up litter than cutting policing or funding for vital community projects.

Take the example of a business near me. It has a number of people going in and out all day, and many are smokers.  They have a bin outside and signs to say ‘don’t drop litter’ but as the day progresses the amount of litter collects on the floor until the next day the council paid street sweeper comes past.  Could it be the responsibility of the business to send out someone to sweep up the litter during the day and at the end of trading??

Clean streets benefit all businesses.  Will we keep attracting tourists if they are greeted with litter? Will we keep our Green city image?

So as businesses, what can we do?

We can provide bins and we can put up signs.  But these alone are not enough.

We can educate our staff of the importance of the environment and the negative impact of litter on our businesses and lives.

We can reduce packaging in our products so there is less litter in the first place.

Could we be really radical and take responsibility for the area around our business, sending out staff or hired cleaners to sweep up outside? 

Could we break the English unspoken rule of speaking to strangers and ask an offender to pick up the litter they’ve dropped?

Lastly, if the litter on the street doesn’t bother you, then have you heard of Garbage Island?  There are 5 in the world, read more here. As temperatures rise so does the litter on our beaches, and every time the tide comes in, more litter goes out to sea. Think of that when you next go for a swim!

Please share any ideas you have to solve the litter problem in our cities streets, beaches and parks.

P.S. For my part as a dog walker, I commit to speak up to those who believe looking the other way negates them of the responsibility to pick up their dog’s business!

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