Ablett is just one of an army of litter vigilantes. Unpaid and unasked, they are ordinary men and women who have simply got so fed up with litter and mess that they have taken it upon themselves to do something about it. Many receive abuse for their trouble and others have run into problems with local councils that can sometimes take umbrage at unauthorised citizen clean-ups.
\”The council hate me,\” said volunteer litter picker Owen Braines, who lives with his wife and three young children near Pool in Cornwall. \”They really don\’t like it. It\’s such a shame, the lack of empowerment in the community that comes from councils sometimes. Nobody listens to you when you complain so it gets boring – so you roll up your sleeves and get on with it.
\”The hardest thing now is that when I clear up a fly tip I have to pay for it as industrial waste when I take it to the council tip. And I do it because it\’s the right thing to do ecologically. I\’m not a lunatic, I just don\’t think we should be wasting resources. I\’m pretty poor but I\’m passionate and I\’m instilling the right values in my kids.\”
Britain has a massive rubbish problem; some 30 million tonnes is dropped on our streets every year. Along with dog mess, litter is the most complained about issue to MPs and local authorities, which spend some £500m a year picking it up. Rubbish is not just unsightly, it is a hazard to wildlife and the environment – some supermarket plastic carrier bags will take 500 years to decompose.
A BBC documentary to be broadcast this week talks to some of the hundreds of people who act as litter vigilantes.
What\’s the betting that the BBC fails to make the obvious point? That voluntary action manages to do things rather better than state enforced collective action does?
Even when we\’ve already paid the State to do this for us and in the face of active resistance by the State in our doing it?