A Rubbish Job: The Everyday Heroes

Perhaps it’s a simple attitude to take. Surely, would we ever have any issues with litter if any time someone saw an empty crisp packet or leftover food on the street, they picked it up? Maybe we’re being naive.

That’s certainly the view which David Sedaris, an American Writer and Humorist who now lives in Horsham, West Sussex, holds very dearly.

He openly declares himself to be “obsessed” with litter, being physically unable to walk past any example of carelessness without accepting responsibility for it, and pointing the item to its correct destination: a bin.

David’s heroic efforts have even earned him the chance to have a refuse truck in Horsham named after him (we also name some of our trucks, if you remember…)

Having taken Clare Balding litter picking in his hometown as part of his entertaining radio program, Mr. Sedaris began to accumulate popularity, recently even giving evidence to a parliamentary select committee on the issue.  

In response, many have cited a collection of reasons for being “put off” picking litter up that they might see. Among the excuses were dog urine, dirt and the lack of proximity to a bin - the latter often being the most common.

However, Mr. Sedaris isn’t the only everyday hero taking on the litterbug. Back in May, 3 year-old Matilda Rusby caused her whole town of North Shields to become obsessed with picking up litter, after her mother tweeted a photo of her picking up rubbish which she argued people should “just put in the bin”.

Her actions even prompted North Tyneside Council to increase their output of bins and warning signs on the issue of litter, following the town’s ‘Mass Spring Clean’, supported by people of all ages from the community.

Matilda’s Father said "she's three and she already knows that litter is wrong whereas people who are fully grown adults don't know", hitting upon the exact nub of the problem which we now face.

Whilst these ‘Everyday Heroes’ are a force for an enormous amount of good in raising the issues that they do, it is the responsibility of everyone to tackle the problem of litter - and without full cooperation in our communities, change can be nothing but a dream.