Big thank you from

Time for us all to re-think our attitude to waste

by Paul Cormacain

BELFAST Council is getting concerned, and I confidently predict that the concern will be reflected in every other local council sooner or later.

The problem is that Europe has told us to get our house in order as far as garbage is concerned ... or else!

Garbage affects us all, it is an environmental problem affecting urban and country life, it affects butterflies and other insects, birds, animals, and of courses humans.

Every day you can see adults and children alike throw garbage from moving, and indeed stationary cars.

You can see folk addicted to the weed throwing away packaging and cigarettes ends on every street in the country. Wrapping from sweets and confectionery are discarded every minute, and the huge parcelling of food-to-go finds its way onto our streets, into our rivers, and lying around our countryside.

The night brigade who settle for food to go sometimes also sample drink to go. The resulting empty beer cans and bottles and empty or half empty mineral cans and bottles can end up anywhere. And frequently do. This is a major problem for wildlife, and an even more important problem for the human population

I know folk who go to those wonderful new recycling centres a couple of times a week. They bring their paper, they bring empty bottles and other glass, they bring plastic, cardboard and other items for recycling. Perhaps these folk should get a discount from the city fathers for cutting down on workload, and for setting a good example.

I know one family whose daughter went off to Paris as part of her degree, and she worked in Citibank while there for a year. Some banks have lower standards than others, but Citibank used to arrange the dropping of wasted paper from a high story to the lower stories, to enable staff to see at first hand how much paper was being wasted.

This had a powerful effect on the girl, and many others who worked there, and when she came home she persuaded her family that in future paper was not to be dumped, rather it was to be recycled. Her family soon got into the spirit of the thing, and I know for a fact there is now no waste in that household, only recycled products. So that family may get a reduction on household expenditure from the city fathers?

There is no reason why we should not get serious about the cost of waste disposal. It is a thing we all can do something about, and theoretically we could all gain financially from improving the situation. Our wildlife friends would love us all the more for it.

Let me tell you about something I saw last week in County Derry , the kind of thing you may all have seen in different places at different times. Near Dungiven there was an army of workers picking up our garbage. Because of the presence nearby of a local sports club I presumed that the patrons of the sporting facilities were responsible for the garbage.

Chatting to one of the workers' army, I discovered that in fact most of the huge bags of waste had been picked up from alongside the roads, along which mostly cars travelled. Distances between houses and villages was reckoned to be too far for easy walking. That seemed to put the onus squarely on us motorists.

I searched my conscience, and would ask all motorists to search theirs. Do we allow ourselves, or our children or passengers to throw any thing out of car windows?

If we do, perhaps it is time for a rethink. And rethink about the cost of all those workers who were spending the time collecting bags of waste. Surely we would all be better off if that army of workers was doing some thing more constructive. And rethink about who pays for them!

So many more of us are getting new bins. And we are all being asked to change our ways, nothing very dramatic, nothing very difficult, but the change will be for the better of humans and wildlife. So we will encourage ourselves, and our children, not to dispose of litter on the streets or in the countryside, except in garbage receptacles. And in our gardens, all garbage should be out of sight in the correct bin. We will leave out food for the birds, and I know some who leave out food for animals. And if we do a spot of gardening we do it in such a way as to encourage butterflies, birds and all forms of wildlife. And the wildlife will be the happier for it. And humans will be the happier for it!

Coming Events

Saturday 7th May - Dawn Chorus Walk at Oxford Island, early bird start at 6am, more from 3834 7438. Breakfast and Bird Song, at lam, with Anthony McGeehan, at Castle Espie, whose number is 9187 4146

Sunday 8th May - Willow event at Oxford Island, at 2pm, more from 3832 2205

Friday 20th May - There will be a May Spring Weekend, courtesy of Lisburn RSPB, going to Speyside. Contact Peter Galloway on 92661982 for more.

Sunday 22nd May - Natural History Tour of Rathlin, at 9.30am, to celebrate Biodiversity Day, for details phone 7082 3600

Thursday 26th May - Birdwatch Morning, at 10.30, at Castle Espie, whose phone is 9187 4146

Ulster Star