Walking around the Green at seven on a winter morning, I don’t have much company: a couple of dog walkers and two men from the council, emptying the bins. There’s more litter lying about but the council men are only here for the bins. Littering doesn’t fit in with council schedules, how could it, so all the more thanks to local people who litter-pick, such as my interviewee this month, a long-time local resident, John Campbell.
John has theories about who the litterers are, based on what he finds. ‘Lots of smokers of course, who leave their stubs – very fiddly to pick up. And quite a few drinkers – more beer than spirits drinkers by the looks of it. There’s quite a lot of health drink bottles too, possibly dropped by gym users, and food packaging, which I think come from builders who eat their lunches on the benches and throw the wrappers down.
Has he ever found anything of note?
‘I once found a till, obviously from a smash and grab robbery on Fortune Green Road,’ (he could tell by the documents left inside it) ‘so I took it and left it outside the relevant shop. Another time, I found a brand new crowbar, possibly left by a workman in a place where a friend could find it. I’ve got it at home now!’
So if he sees someone littering, what does he do? ‘I don’t really want to accost people because they would probably punch me on the nose. There’s a certain authority that comes from being official – wearing a Friends of Fortune Green jacket, for instance – that might protect one from being attacked, and also I think a woman might get a better response than a man – there’s still more of a taboo about punching a woman. As it is, I expect people would just see me as an old codger and punch me.’
John isn’t part of FoFG. He’s just an individual doing his thing, and happy to be that way. Perhaps he’s an example for how the volunteering on Fortune Green should develop: in addition to the organised group activities, perhaps the Committee should encourage individuals to do a little bit extra, like litter picking or weeding, in ways and at times that suit them? There might be lots of people who just feel like doing this spontaneously. Equipment isn’t necessary, though unlike John, I’m guessing that most people would want to wear gloves, just in case. And for those who want to be more official, there’s a ready supply of litter pickers, and possibly even some hi-vis FoFG jackets, available to borrow from FoFG. Anyone interested?
This is the final blog of 2015, so have a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy new year.
- Catherine Allison