About Rural Litter

Britain's Litter Heroes

The Litter Hero Test

My Litter Picking

[+] Do something!

[+] Cotswold Litter Heroes
[+] Big Brand Litter

Litter Horrors

Why we need a Bottle Bill

Litter links



"We are no longer a green and pleasant land spotted with filthy places.
We are a filthy island in which there is now an occasional oasis of cleanliness."
Jeremy Paxman

What's special about rural litter

Example of rural litter As environmental problems go, rural litter is a bit of a Cinderella. Few people or organisations are giving it much attention.

Particular issues with rural litter are:

Councils and rural litter

Councils categorise streets and roads depending on use, likely level of littering and sensitity/profile, and use this to determine the frequency of litter picking. So, for example: The majority of other roads, including most rural lanes, are on a reactive basis, i.e. they will only be litter picked if a member of the public complains or a council member/employee notices a problem.

What's in rural litter

So, what sort of rubbish is getting dropped in the countryside?

Rural litter plastic bottles Rural litter drinks cans
Here's a typical sack of the stuff. I picked it up from just one mile of a typical rural lane running between the villages of Winstone and Sapperton in the Cotswolds, an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty. Here it is tipped out. Time to get our hands dirty and sort it out. The photos below show what the heap contained
Rural litter plastic bottles Rural litter drinks cans
25 plastic drinks bottles - these will take more than 500 years to degrade. 35 drinks cans - these take around 100 years to fully degrade.
Rural litter fast food MacDonalds Rural litter confectionery
18 items of fast food litter, of which 9 were from McDonalds. 34 assorted crisp packets and chocolate bar wrappers.
Rural litter cigarette packets Rural litter carrier bags
10 cigarette packets 5 carrier bags
Rural litter cigarette misc Rural litter debris
Some newspaper, a milk carton, 2 Ribena cartons, plastic food containers, discarded sandwiches in foil, a yoghurt pot Miscellaneous plastic debris (mostly carrier bags) flailed to bits by hedge/verge cutting.
Rural litter hub cap
A hub cap and a bit of wing mirror. Nearly every sack of litter I collect has at least one hub cap in it.

Who's dropping it

My guess is 90% of rural litter is dropped by motorists. The vast majority of litter is found on roadside verges and anywhere cars park. Cyclists or walkers may be responsible for a small fraction of litter, but there are just not enough of them to account for the vast bulk of it.

The problem is that littering from a car is almost entirely guilt and risk free. Just lower the window, chuck it and it's gone. No risk of being caught, no one to remonstrate with you. An ENCAMS survey found that one-third of motorists regularly drop litter from their cars.

Copyright © Tim Barnes 2008