Editorial: Good riddance to bad rubbish

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 May, 2021 at 3:35 pm by Andre Camilleri

It’s almost summer, time to enjoy the great outdoors and make the most of it, now that restrictions are easing, and experience the restorative powers of nature. But be warned with any country stroll. These days you are more likely to get depressed and angry at the sight of other people’s rubbish, from casual litter to deliberate fly-tipping. The state of our countryside and beaches is appalling as recent news stories have highlighted.

While littering of the seas is now at the forefront of public concern, general littering of the countryside, beach and other public areas is barely on the national radar. Yet the amount of “eyesore” litter, not just plastic, is increasing exponentially on roadsides, in public spaces and in the countryside and has a hugely negative impact on people’s lives.

Research shows that litter affects people’s feelings of well-being and safety. Littered streets are a sign of abandonment. Consequently, their inhabitants feel abandoned too. Litter ruins people’s enjoyment of the countryside and makes open spaces feel like waste grounds. Unfortunately, this isn’t just exclusive to one area of the country.

Plenty of good souls are constantly organising clean-ups, disheartened to return a week later to find the place a mess yet again, (just take a look at 7R lifestyle on social media, and their week in week out visits to Ghar Lapsi). The team is swimming against the tide. They barely make a start on the rubbish, despite spending hours filling countless bags of old shoes, food containers, polystyrene packaging, bottles of all kinds and bulk refuse. Why is it acceptable for us to live like this? To litter and live with it? It seems to be the case. What’s more, yearning for the return of tourists remains a fruitless endeavour if we are incapable as a nation of picking up after ourselves.

But is telling people to change their littering behaviour a waste of time? Many would seem to believe so. What’s the alternative? Many researchers believe the problem needs to be tackled at source, which means reducing the amount of waste packaging we have to become a zero-waste society.

The EU package will set binding targets for household waste of 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035. It also includes a more ambitious recycling target specifically for packaging – 65% by 2025 and 70% by 2030. Legislation is one thing, but it’s up to each one of us to stop leaving our rubbish to become someone else’s problem.

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