The world’s highest peaks are places that the majority of us will never experience, so I am very pleased to hear that some of the people who enjoy such places are taking positive action to leave them in a better condition than that in which they found them. Most of us enjoy ourselves in easier to access environments, which should make it much simpler to look after them. In this particular instance I’m talking about beaches.
I know that there are many of you out there who take your rubbish home with you, and have a care for wildlife and other people, but I am consistently dismayed by the amount of litter I see lying around. And this isn’t only on big well-used beaches – some of these at least have crews to groom them at the end of the day – it’s also the most isolated beaches. The ones found at the end of 5km dirt tracks too rough for your average hire car, or all but the most motivated fisherman.
It’s easy to put your own rubbish in a bag and take it away with you, and easy to see that you yourself are responsible for that particular bit of waste. We all like to be carefree and enjoy ourselves but in much the same way as we accept the need to live in a clean and hygienic house, we can accept that if we generate waste somewhere that is not our home, somewhere where we are a guest, then it is our duty to dispose of it properly. It’s usually not as easy to accept responsibility for someone else’s rubbish. I know you didn’t drop it, nor did I. And I know that they shouldn’t have left it there in the first place. But if you or I don’t do something about it, then it’s going to sit there looking ugly until some unsuspecting animal tries to eat it, or the elements move it on to a different place to be ugly there instead. Almost all of the rubbish I see on beaches is made of plastic, and a large portion of that has obviously been at sea for some time. As we are now very aware, plastic never goes away. It may disintegrate (VERY slowly) into smaller and smaller pieces, but it is always there.... unless we remove it.
I’m not interested in blaming anyone for the problem, but I am interested in positive change. And there’s no point in complaining about something unless I am prepared to do something about it.
SO, I will now pledge to take an empty bag with me EVERY TIME that I go to the beach, and aim to remove as much litter as I can fit into it. I imagine that this will not add more than a few minutes to my trip. I want to see clean beaches, so I have to ‘be that change’. I can’t do it on my own, so I ask all of you, please, wherever you go to enjoy yourself, be careful with your playground. Tidy up after yourselves, and if you are able, bag up a little of someone else’s rubbish too. They won’t thank you for it, but that place will be in a better condition because YOU were there.
There are many problems to do with the way we treat our planet, a lot of which are difficult for us to relate to because of their scale. This however is something that we can do on a small, local scale that has immediately visible results, but, if enough of us act, then the effects will be much wider spread.