What Really Paves the Streets of London?

Did you know that the litter on the streets around you speaks volumes about the region where you live?

It’s not something I had ever thought about before, but the the chaps at Keep Britain Tidy have conducted a survey which reveals that your accent really does determine the rubbish that you have to contend with every day.

As a Geordie, I wasn’t terribly surprised to learn that Greggs the bakers was topping the charts in my own area – it’s not a criticism of the shop itself, more a note of despair that the people who buy their sarnie and sausage rolls each day, who are apparently incapable of finding their way to a bin (about 5 steps given the city centre location…)

Fast food wrappers are unsurprisingly amongst the top offenders nationwide, but as you get further down south, the survey shows a higher preponderance of coffee cups rather than pies, serving to re-emphasize all sorts of stereotypes. But back to the fast food joints – it also came to my attention today that McDonalds have apparently started to install plastic recycling bins. This first installation was in Switzerland, who tend to have a better reputation for, well, a lot of things than us UK dwellers, but on initial inspection this did seem to be a good sign. Or does it…?

I question whether this would spread to fast food joints in other locations. For one thing – what would they recycle? British fast food joints don’t hand out their drinks in plastic bottles, and I can’t imagine recycling the rest of the detritus that remains at the end of a ‘meal’. And even if it was recyclable in house, I bet you’d still find burger wrappers and disposable drinking cup lying around (not inside) city bins.

But how do we combat the problem of litter? Those of us who are already eco-conscious can concentrate on recycling and composting in our own homes (check out the All Waste Kitchen Composter which composts cooked food as well as the normal veg waste), but there aren’t many places in the UK where you can see public recycling bins as standard.

Busting the litter problem is a massive part of making our cities greener, but until attitudes start to change I don’t know how things can improve. It shouldn’t be down to the few of us to pick up the litter of many. Maybe we need to be shaming the food companies into reducing their packaging.

Answers on a postcard!

(And what does really pave the streets of London…? You guessed it – it’s MacDonalds wrappers…!)

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