We need to think more about litter

Maria Caulfield MP on a littler pick at Cuckmere Haven beach
Maria Caulfield MP on a littler pick at Cuckmere Haven beach

Although littering has always been a contentious issue, the necessity to effectively combat its adverse effects has quietly escalated in recent years

Recent estimates declare that littering costs the taxpayer up to £850 million a year.

As well as this alarming figure, Keep Britain Tidy have exposed the various indirect costs of littering, as well as its detrimental effects on communities. In a 2014 study, it concluded that littering was indirectly accountable for nearly £900 million to tackle crime and mental health problems. It attributed these costs to the fact that increased litter was a direct indicator of a disintegrating community, and thus was interlinked with increasing crime rates and mental health problems.

I have been doing my utmost to oppose littering in the constituency. I have been an ardent supporter of the Great British Spring Clean, which is due to begin on the 3rd March and this week I joined a team of local volunteers on a Beach Clean at Cuckmere Haven.

We spent two hours collecting litter from the beach and filled twenty bags of rubbish. What was most concerning was that most of this litter was plastics, which is especially harmful toward marine wildlife, of which it is our duty to protect. This volume of litter on our beaches is clearly unacceptable.

There have also been a lot of complaints about litter on the A26 and A27, and when Lewes District Council recently did a litter pick on these roads it collected over 150 bags of rubbish; most of which being domestic litter.

It is clear that greater education and awareness is needed to prevent littering because of its glaringly negative societal and environmental effects. 10% of areas in the South East of England were considered at an unacceptable standard regarding litter in 2014. I am committed to significantly reducing this figure, but there is only so much I can do.

While I congratulate the many groups of volunteers in the constituency who do regular “Clean Ups” and welcome the action the local councils are taking, we all must play our part. We all need to be more careful when disposing litter and to think about the damage that littering can do, both to the environment and to the integrity of our community.