I share the rage of Walsham-le-Willowers who recently awoke to find a tsunami of washed up rubbish soiling their village verge and hedgerows.
What was a pristine piece of Suffolk roadside, home to the baby shoots of Queen Annes’ lace and the greening of elderflower and rowan, was now befouled by a snaking ridge of old junk.
Grass verges are home to bumble bees and nesting cover for bedded down partridge. They shelter predatory insects that help control pests and their hedges act as a barrier to windborne pests too. They are the nursery for the pollinators that will ensure the crops in the fields beyond do their stuff. And some idiot does the environmental equivalent of dumping their rubbish in your bed.
It made me wonder who is the beast of the field here and whether beasts deserve to be libelled by such a comparison. Animals tend to seek a secluded place to discreetly defecate in and conduct their other toilet habits but increasingly, humans appear to have devolved out of this instinct and now we want the whole world to deal with our rubbish.
This latest episode of fly-tipping was so humongous it quite possibly required a tipper truck to ensure a speedy and discreet industrial defecation and, after seeing press reports, my immediate response was to spend a satisfying half hour dreaming up cruel and unusual punishments for the miscreants. These ranged from supergluing them to the bed of the lorry, driving it to a field and setting the tipper to ‘auto’ all night, rendering them dizzy and vomitous in a 12-hour facsimile of the worst kind of fairground ride, to forcing them to eat a plate of floor sweepings from local hairdressers. I had to make myself stop before I wasted even more of the day on deeply satisfying revenge fantasies.
Seriously though, what the hell is the matter with us? It is not enough to blame the rising costs of legal methods of disposal because a lot of the time we are talking about the more ‘domestic’ kind of waste although there is nothing domesticated about the filthy toerags who leave it: bottles of urine, kebabs (either fresh or...um...), bottles of half drunk beer dumped in side streets because clubs and pubs refuse entrance to people carrying them (try providing a refuse bin immediately outside then), bags of dog faeces hanging from trees and bushes (the Antichrist version of a Christmas tree) and forests-worth of paper.
I do accept that there aren’t enough bins in the town and that sometimes beauty spots have to balance the installation of bins with waste collections and that some of our Suffolk woods, coastal regions and reserves aren’t particularly accessible to bin lorries either. Their impact upon the aesthetics of the place can also be a sticking point. Believe you me, there’s always someone who will complain that a bin spoils their view in a way that hanging bags full of faeces do not. But fly tipping on this scale is about a bunch of filthy tightwads unwilling to pay for official methods of removal. Chuck the full force of the law at them please, local courts.
For the more ‘everyday’ kind of littering maybe we need to address the causes of waste and focus on a better end game for our waste. Financially discourage businesses from unnecessary packaging for a start and if waste had a greater value, there might be more fiscal incentive to both recycle and properly dispose of it and finance the provision of easily accessible facilities for doing so: ones that don’t assume we all drive either.
Or maybe we do need to go all medieval and come up with a series of consequences that exert real and adverse results upon culprits. From forcing them to litter pick or work in recycling centres and charity shop back rooms to loss of the ability to work in a particular commercial trade should they fly-tip, something needs to be done. Making them walk about with a sack load of stinking rubbish lashed to their back for a week is probably taking it too far, although should I ever awaken in that parallel universe I have conjured up during moments of idleness (to be known as Milleronia) I may just bring in that law for the sheer venal pleasure of getting revenge on people who are literally dumping on my doorstep.