At least they made an effort; photo by LoopZilla (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

Cold, dark and grimy. I sure picked a good year to move to London. Besides the economic downturn and an increase in VAT, the city – along with the rest of the UK – has apparently gotten dirtier. Besides lousy pollution levels, an exceptionally cold winter and beaches covered in rubbish, there’s a bunch of weirdos hanging plastic bags of dog shit from trees.

That’s the main focus of an article in the London Times, which moans about gangsta wannabes who are too tough to clean up their pit bulls’ leavings, but suggests that the bucolic black bag-hangers are ‘just impossibly confused’.

The author is probably right about the urban macho dog owners. As for the rambling country black baggers, why can’t they just take the bags home? Because carrying a bag of shite down a country lane is just as uncool as it is in the ‘hood – if there are indeed any ‘hoods here in Mary-Poppins-land, which I guess there sort of are.

Anyway, some useful info also comes from the Times article:

Britain has become scruffier as well as colder, according to a report by Keep Britain Tidy. As parliament was told recently, motorway embankments are strewn with plastic bags and the laybys on A-roads are overflowing with fast-food packaging and plastic bottles. Although the amount of litter was down 4% last year — because councils spent record amounts clearing it up — overall standards of cleanliness declined.

Believe me, I’ve noticed. And just what is this mythical council that does everything for you, albeit poorly?

The Telegraph, another conservative-leaning paper incase you didn’t know, ran an article about all the food-related waste that piggy Britons throw away every year: 11.9 million tons of it. That’s 0.45 tons per household. According to the Waste and Recycling Action Programme (Wrap) these numbers could be cut in half.

In environmental terms, all the rotting food and waste that is wasted contributes the equivalent of 20 million tons of carbon dioxide a year to the atmosphere. The associated packaging adds another six million tons of CO2 a year, the report’s authors estimated.


Furthermore, a third of all household food in the UK – worth ₤420 (€480/$640) – ends up being thrown away. Though recycling rates have gone up in Britain, composting lags behind, meaning food goes in landfills and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

The government is working on proposals to tackle food waste including ‘pay as you throw schemes’ which will probably increase illegal dumping. Why not cut waste off at the source, like requiring less packaging on food products? Another proposal is to ban ‘buy one get one free’ deals at supermarkets. That’s how I get most of my dinners! Makes me want to throw a shopping cart full of two-for-one frozen pizzas down a wooded slope. Not that I would ever do such a thing.

About The Author: Graham Land

Greenfudge editor and London-based writer Graham Land grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, where he was part of the local hardcore punk scene, playing in several bands. Through this musical movement he became involved in grass roots interests such as anti-racist activism, animal rights and Ecology. In 2000 he relocated to Europe, eventually earning an MA from Malmö University in Sweden. He has also lived in Japan, Ireland, Portugal and Greece.


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