The irony that Jeremy Corbyn wants to encourage electric cars isn’t that he doesn’t own a car, but that like him, you can’t hear electric cars coming. This nod to the environment might be commendable, but disregarding existing government grants/tax breaks, and that fossil fuels are used to manufacture the cars and produce their electricity, he’s misunderstanding human nature. In fact, he’s been so busily hammering out political ideals and doctrine that it’s unlikely he knows much about people at all. The sad fact is that people don’t give a fuck, and with hugely increasingly global population there’s more and more people who take the environment for granted with the sort of entitlement familiar to 4×4 Chelsea mothers.
It’s only September, yet our local train station already has an open-air five bar electric heater glowing fully above the turnstiles from 6am to midnight, so staff can be a little warmer, with no thought about the environment impact. It’s depressing that loud tutting as you pass has so little effect in communicating anger at such wilful waste. Only a lifetime ago houses had no central heating, even stately homes had drafts measurable on the Beaufort scale. These days homes are like walking into a Kew Glass house, so people can wear t-shrts. If anyone really cares about the environment and lower fuel bills, they should turn the thermostat down, and put jumpers on. But people turn their lights on without a thought as to how it happens.
Nowhere is the evidence of people not caring for their environment more apparent than London’s pavements. Once you became a parent or dog owner (the two are interchangeable apart from dogs don’t commandeer the TV, or need picking up from school), you notice how much dog poo and chicken bones litter our walkways. MaCDonald’s wrappers and cartons lie in the gutter, from where they were thrown from a car. After all, who wants their car untidy?
It used to be a Smash Hits question; at least if it wasn’t, it should have been: What’s in your pocket? Well, let’s do this, you can try this at home, but at airport security is best. I have a comb, tissues, an elastic band, a pack of penicillin, a half finished pack of mini cheddars, 48p, 3 fruit pastilles, non-electric car keys, a dummy and an empty carton of Ka that isn’t mine. I picked it up. It’s a drink that apparently includes not using a bin when finished as part of its recommended serving suggestion.
Ka is the sort of fruit flavoured drink keeping Jamie Oliver awake at the moment. The nearest it’s ever been to fruit is illustrations of pineapples on its packaging, and when it was driven past orchards during delivery. But the point is, I picked it up from the street, which I do so frequently that the pushchair is stuffed with recyclables everytime I reach home. I’m almost disappointed if I return empty handed. I can see myself utilising the pushchair for this purpose long after the children have grown up. Whenever my 4-year old sees a tin can he points at it for me to throw away, which I point blank refuse, until I pick it up. However, since he started school I’ve been careful to pick up rubbish only on the way home, after I arrived in the playground unwittingly holding 2 empty cans of Special Brew at 9am.
It may not sound particularly dangerous, but I’ve also learnt that it’s best to not directly confront individuals about littering, certainly not gangsta types. My experience with this involved cheerfully taking someone to task for dropping a burger carton outside the job centre. His argument defending the right to throw litter on the street mainly involved calling me a wanker, and telling me to ‘fuck off’. He illustrated this by miming the shooting of a gun at me with an almost stereotypically disregard to established rules of scissors, paper, stone.
An example we could all follow is that of Major General Charles Gerhardt who commanded the US 29th infantry during D-Day. Seeing a man tossing away orange peel away on the Dunkirk beach, Gerhardt sprang up from maps he was studying and gave the GI a furious tongue-lashing for littering.
People may scoff, that littering is a minor social ill, it but it’s indicative of respect; for the environment, and for other people. The more accepting of it we become, the more complicit we become in disrespecting the planet. Sadly, it’s only too evident that people place less value on an arctic ice cap than a night cap in an overheated heated flat. It’s equally clear that bloggers will do anything to end with a pun.
This post was previously published on The Life Assistance Agency and is republished here with permission from the author.
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Photo credit: The Life Assistance Agency