With this in mind I took another riverside walk a couple of days ago. Having seen various groups enjoying the sunshine over the weekend I decided to go prepared – with a bin bag and gloves! Sure enough I found the bank strewn with litter, in fact I could almost identify which groups left which rubbish. For example, the group of lads all trying to look buff drinking lager which was on special offer at the Co-Op – I picked up their cans. The extended family, adults and children sat on nicely laid out picnic blankets – I picked up their disposable barbeque and their soft drink bottles. The young couple spin fishing (clearly poaching) – I picked up their energy drink (half full – well I hope it was Lucozade). The older group, maybe my age enjoying the new rules where you can meet people from another household outside – I also got their barbeque and their cigarette packs. The girls who were taking precautions in the blazing weather with sunblock– I got their discarded factor 15.
In a few hundred metres I managed to fill the bin bag to the point where I was concerned about it splitting, before it did I disposed of the litter responsibly in a council rubbish bin. This was easy to do as there are numerous in the area in which I was walking – the 100m ‘slog’ to find a bin is obviously too much for many though.
It used to be said that ‘it’s the minority who spoil it for the majority’ with regard to this sort of anti-social behaviour, but unfortunately I don’t think that’s true anymore. The groups I saw down by the river at the weekend were socially varied but most of them thought it was ok to leave their junk behind. When each group has stood up to go, not one of them, from OAP to child, has suggested that they clean up the mess they’ve made. So I no longer believe we can point the finger at a mindless few – this is the mainstream behaviour of a throw-away society.
The trouble is I’m not sure how we tackle this issue. Obviously there’s a ground-swell of outrage on social media,however, I suspect most fishers have a friends group that comprises of fellow fishers like Tracy and myself, so it’s largely a case of preaching to the converted. I’m also not prepared to directly confront perpetrators in this day and age as things could quickly escalate and get nasty. So I really am at a loss.
I’m feeling particularly grumpy today as the rivers have finally opened to fly fishing to resume – I still can’t fish though! Unfortunately during my litter picking I slipped down the bank and badly sprained my wrist. At the moment I’m struggling to be able to pull my socks on, let alone being able to perform any sort of fly cast. Also, after a month of fine weather it’s pissing it down… however the garden does need the water.
What I do know is that every day I fish the river this year I’m going to take a bin bag with me. That way I’m going to leave the river with less rubbish when I leave than when I arrived. It’s not going to make a huge impact, but at least it’s something.
All the best, James