This morning’s walk through the park was a very pleasant experience. It was one of those refreshingly cool, dewy mornings when the bright sun and fresh air lift the spirits and make people more sociable, more inclined to say “good morning” as they pass by.
We saw a woman, I guess in her sixties, carrying what was obviously other people’s litter to an already overflowing bin; yesterday, Sunday, was very busy here in this popular Cheshire town park.
My girlfriend, on her way to work, stopped to thank her for making a difference and we got into a short chat about litter, why people can’t be bothered to carry it to a bin, the prevalence of bagged offerings to the “dog-poo fairy” in shrubs and bushes by paths, and the like. The woman was one of those socially-minded and motivated people who are prepared to do something about a problem, one of the small proportion of the population who take the lead by example and who make changes happen, in spite of others’ reluctance or indifference.
So we moved on, exchanging thanks with the woman, past several bins as over-full as in the photo above, stopping to wonder at the patient night-shift work of a spider, her perfect web catching the early sunlight (I hope she was rewarded with a meal before some happy and unaware dog ran through it later!).
We said our farewells for now by railings hung with luxuriant flower boxes (some Council Tax is well-spent!) and I returned through the park, happy and at ease and inspired to collect a couple more discarded take-away boxes to add to the piles by the bins.
What I felt encouraged by, despite the earlier conversation, was that the bins were full and that the excess was piled alongside them. Clearly the majority of visitors had taken the trouble to put their litter in the bins and, when they couldn’t, at least put it down beside the bin, easy to collect. I think this is a good sign. Most people are ok.
Most people are, at least in my own experience, helpful, reasonably kind, honest and polite, prefer clean surroundings and avoid violent conflict. Sure, a minority who are not cause a disproportionate impact but, today, I feel less inclined to think “people are so lazy, dirty…” and so on. At least if there are fewer who are causing problems, we have real hope of creating the conditions for them to change; it does demand the effort, like that woman, of each of us taking a turn at leadership and that means stooping to pick up a piece of somebody else’s rubbish.