The UK is full of beautiful landscapes and natural areas. However, an issue that has been growing more and more over recent years is the amount of litter on our ground. In fact, more than two million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK every single day.
Not only is the litter unsightly, but it also causes serious issues for our environment and UK wildlife. It can take years to decompose, given that the majority of litter dropped in the UK is made up of plastic packaging.
Other types of litter, such as food waste, still take up to 2 years to biodegrade and can attract vermin and bring disease to local residents.
Plus, aside from the serious risks to health, wildlife and the environment, litter on the ground degrades the appearance of an area and results in less people wanting to visit. Research also shows that high levels in litter in an area result in more criminal behaviour.
Read on for some more shocking facts about the litter issue in the UK and how it affects us:
The cost to the taxpayers for street cleaning is over £1 billion a year.
30 million tonnes of litter are collected from our streets every year.
Around 112 tonnes of cigarette-related litter is dropped every day in the UK.
62% of people in England drop litter – but only 28% will admit to it.
The amount of litter dropped in the UK every year has increased by 500% since the 1960s.
Over 70,000 pets and wild animals are hurt in the UK every year due to litter.
Around 80% of ocean litter comes from land, harming sea life.
It is estimated that worldwide, plastic kills over 1 million marine creatures every year.
What is being littered?
Keep Britain Tidy surveys British land to figure out what we are littering the most. “Of the 7,200 sites surveyed in England: 83% had smokers’ materials, 69% had confectionary packaging, 54% had soft drink tins and bottles, 24% had fast food items, 21% had snack packaging, 20% had discarded bottles of alcohol and 8% had broken glass.” (Sourced from Countryfile)
What can we do?
To fully tackle the littering problem that we’re facing, steps need to be taken at a Government level, which could include stricter fines for littering, more regulations on packaging or increased funding for protecting our green spaces.
However, there are steps that we can take as individuals to do our bit and reduce the amount of litter being dropped:
Firstly, and most importantly, don’t drop litter. Take your rubbish home with you if you can’t find a bin. Organise collection of large household items instead of fly-tipping.
Pick up litter that you see. The Canal and River Trust estimate that the canals and rivers of the UK could be plastic-free in one year if every visitor picked up a single piece of litter.
Join a litter pick. There are organised litter picks year-round, but the Great British Spring Clean begins on the 17th March and encourages people to join as individuals or groups.
Be wary of packaging. When you’re outdoors, reducing the amount of packaging that you bring for food and other items will help you not leave anything behind that you shouldn’t.
To help to tackle the litter issue in our own communities, members of our team at Wilson’s have been taking part in a group litter pick, partnered with Countrystyle Recycling, around the local area.
We’re completing our litter picking alongside the Great British Spring Clean, which runs until the 2nd April!
If you want to get involved in the GB Spring Clean, visit https://www.keepbritaintidy.org/get-involved/support-our-campaigns/great-british-spring-clean for more information.
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