The subject of littering has been hotly debated in the Inverness Courier lately. There's tons of litter on the ground here, and, where others are just whining, I decided I wanted to be the one to do something about it. So I sent this letter to the Courier in the hopes of getting it printed and reacted to. Here's hoping.
Letter writer Stephen Connah (Battle against litter is everyone's responsibility, published 25 April 2008) is on the money regarding litter in the beautiful city of Inverness.
An American expatriate, I moved to Inverness in October 2007. Since then, I have become increasingly alarmed at the sheer volume of litter in the streets and on the sidewalks in and around the city centre and in other parts of the city. It's mostly children and teens who do the dropping, too - candy and crisp wrappers and fast food bags, cups and containers - and they do it without a second thought. More than once, I have wanted to shout at a youngster to pick up his or her garbage. But it's not just Invernesian youth I want to shout at: it's parents, too. Are parents teaching their children to put their rubbish where it belongs? I'd wager that, in too many instances, the answer is no. At Whin Park the other week, for example, a young boy and girl were eating crisps and playing near some slides. Both children dropped the empty crisp bags behind a slide when they were done. Their parents, of course, looked the other way.
My daughter is only three months old but will be taught from the time she can understand my words that littering just isn't okay. In many parts of the United States, too, littering is such a thing of the past. Where is this garbage dump attitude coming from? Is it a continuation of the "give everything to me now and I'll throw it all away in two minutes but I'm not worried because there will be more tomorrow" attitude that many people, not just youngsters, have these days? As global warming is showing us, Mother Nature isn't always so forgiving.
Keeping Inverness clean is everyone's responsibility. It's up to individuals to not litter, of course, but parents and teachers can increase littering awareness among youngsters. Fines for littering and strict enforcement of littering laws can be a deterrent to litterers, too, as can good old-fashioned peer pressure. If youngsters and adults alike would spread the message to their littering friends that littering is for losers - and if fellow citizens would stand up against littering when they catch someone in the act - the city might just get a little greener.
I'm willing to put these words into action by organizing litter clean-up days for volunteers, but I need the help of others. If you want to lend a hand - or if you're a parent or teacher who wants to educate your children or students about the importance of a clean environment by asking them to roll up their sleeves as well - write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's the least we can do for a city that continually gives us so much natural beauty.