Driving around our beautiful constituency last weekend, I noticed quite a bit of litter on some of the verges. Clearly, people had deliberately tossed their litter out of their car window whilst driving, which makes me so cross about their lack of care and concern for our environment. As we approach the warmer months and more visitors come to our beautiful towns, villages, beaches and countryside, I am reminded about the awful litter problems that many constituents complained about last year, particularly on our beaches.
Yesterday, (22nd April) marked World Earth Day, a yearly event started by an American Senator, Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin after seeing the damage done by a huge oil spill in 1969, off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Earth Day seeks to raise awareness about our role in caring for the planet. Over the years it has become an important global event. Earth Day in 2016 coincided with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change – an Agreement in which our former MP, Amber Rudd, was instrumental.
We have one Earth - our home - and we all have a duty to look after it. World Earth Day was established in 1970, its objective to ‘create a common awareness of the problems endangering the survival of the planet: overpopulation, conservation of biodiversity, pollution, among other factors’. This year’s theme is ‘Restore Our Earth’.
We can all do our bit to help Restore our Earth – to create a healthier environment where we live – by reducing our waste, tackling litter and recycling.
We all produce too much waste and wherever we look there is too much plastic. We can all take responsibility to do something about this by making small changes in our lives such as not putting fruit and vegetables in plastic bags, not using cling film to wrap food, trying to avoid buying food in plastic packaging (supermarkets take note!), shopping local and composting food waste amongst many other ways. These small steps would reduce the amount of everyday refuse which gets sent to landfills or incinerators, reducing the toxins and greenhouse gases being emitted into our environment.
We are lucky to have local action groups which organise community litter picks, such as Tidy Up St Leonards, Strandliners, Hastings Beach Clean and Surfers Against Sewage, to name but a few. I am delighted to support a new anti-litter (and anti-social behaviour) campaign in Camber, led by residents and the Parish Council, due to be in place by the end of May. This is also supported by our local police and Rother District Council.
We must all care about litter on our streets, in our parks, on our beaches and in our countryside. If local residents care about litter, and we all muck in together to keep Hastings and Rye beautiful, we can change our own attitudes towards our environment, but also those of visitors and tourists as well. If we do not look after our local environment as residents, how can we expect visitors to follow suit?
I would urge everyone to ‘get litter in a bag’ with litter picks in their area. We want to enjoy our beautiful area whilst also welcoming respectful and considerate visitors. We need to to take the lead in protecting what they have come to enjoy.