I can’t abide casual littering: the deliberately dropped sweet wrapper; the thoughtlessly discarded crisps packet; the fag chucked out of a car window. Worse than the physical act of defiling the landscape, what worries me more is the state of mind of the litterer. Someone who is unable to respect the most fundamental tenets of civic behaviour, is surely someone capable of greater atrocities against society? When I spot a litterbug, what I am actually seeing is someone who has the potential to be a mindless mass murderer.
Fly-tipping could be seen as littering made large, but I think that there are different dynamics at work. Whereas littering is an act of slothful stupidity, fly-tipping involves an element of forethought and planning. Is that any better? Perhaps not. Maybe it is simply making the distinction between a mindless mass murderer and a calculating serial killer. The effect on the environment may be the same but, nevertheless, an understanding of the psychology of the deviancy is important.
In my local area, the council has had a recent crackdown on fly-tipping: there have been door-to-door visits; an advisory campaign; leaflets and posters have been produced; and admonishing signs have been painted on the pavement in areas most prone to illegal dumping. All very worthy.
Confronting the other end of the littering spectrum, special fag-butt bins have been constructed, whereby it is possible to vote for your local football team’s player of the season, by dropping used fag-ends in one side of the bin as opposed to the other. Perhaps this same kind of voting system should be extended to general elections? Imagine the headlines: Jeremy Corbyn storms to victory on a landslide of reefers and roll-ups.
Personally, I think there is an easier solution to reducing fly-tipping: abolish council charges for the removal of large, unwanted household items. Currently, my local council charges £29 to remove up to three large, non-electrical items; £29 per item for electrical white goods; and £31 per item for TV screens and computers. Make it all free. No one wants to pay to get rid of rubbish. Human nature is more inclined to believe that it should be rewarded for such an act of selflessness, not penalised. Once again, it all comes back to psychology. Even a £1 charge would still act as a deterrent. Disguise the costs amongst the council tax bill if need be, but do not charge explicitly for itemised rubbish removal.
It’s simply creating a society of serial killers.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree recognises that sometimes no amount of polite notices is sufficient.