There’s the full on criminals. The ones who drive off the A20 and unload a skip’s worth of asbestos. Those who dump the corpses of horses (it’s happened twice) or, worse, a dying horse (also twice). There’s the garage who regularly throw thousands of tyres over woodland verges or over hedges, sometimes they then set fire to them.
Then there’s the middle ground. The builders who have done the house or garden clearance and can’t be arsed/don’t want to pay to take it to the tip. Carpeting, broken mirrors, furniture, old records. Sifting through the detritus is heart-breaking, often it seems like a whole life or home just dumped, belongings that once gave comfort and belonging, now just trashing the countryside.
And the hardest of all to understand; the casual chucker. Presumably those who casually chuck a can or a car-litter bag, or a dirty nappy or a McDonalds bag out of their car door think it means nothing. It means everything. At least half of the bulk of any clearance we do at St Clere is made up of this kind of waste. There’s the guy (probably) with the drink problem (presumably) who chucks his Tenants Extra can up Terry’s Lodge Road. Over a year, he gets through thousands. They are jagged and rust and are ugly and dangerous to the wildlife that tries to live on the verges, hedgerows and woodland edges. There’s a long-life-banana-milk drinker who does the same thing along the Kemsing Road leaving hundreds of screwed up plastic bottles. People who have picnics at scenic spots and leave all their empties.
It is beyond me. What is wrong with humanity that anyone does this? It’s impossible to do a litter picking session without asking deep existential questions about what we are getting wrong.
And yet. St Clere facebook posts about litter picking are the most popular we ever post. People really really care. It infuriates our community, it puzzles us all, it demands action. I started CleanUp Sevenoaks as a district wide anti-litter campaign and people from all over the place signed up to help out within hours of the launch. Our plan is to encourage people to litter-pick regularly and to educate those in one of the groups above. But mostly the aim is to engage the children of our district. In my opinion it’s children who have driven forward acceptance of the climate change message. They can do the same with littering and fly tipping, I hope.
By law, it is the householder who is responsible for making sure their waste is disposed of safely and legally. When fly tipping occurs, it is often carried out by illegal waste carriers who promise to take your waste away for a bargain fee but then dump it. If the waste is dumped illegally, the waste could be traced back to you rather the person who dumped it and you would be held responsible. If you are looking to start on a household project, consider what waste you may generate and how you will dispose of it once the job is done.
Before hiring any individual or company take down the individual or company details and check with the Environment Agency that they are a registered waste carrier.