If you’ve been through the Butterflies section of the site – and I assume you have given it now forms part of the national curriculum – you’ll have noticed how we frown upon littering. We frown upon it from above, with a downturned mouth and creased forehead. It’s yer basic frowning upon technique, the kind you would do with anything upon which you frown.

The point is we don’t like littering. Its wasteful, it’s lazy, it looks crap, it costs a ton to clear up and its downsides are so immediately obvious it’s baffling anyone bothers with it. You don’t drop litter, you have a clean street; you drop litter, you have an untidy street. It’s about as basic a cause-and-effect as shitting on your own teeth and wanting a gargle of Listerine. We could have streets and neighbourhoods and towns and cities as clean as Will Smith’s lyrics but instead we’ve covered them in cigarette butts, chewing gum and a hundred types of unlovely trash. It’s a weird thing we’re doing to ourselves here. It’s a symbol of every self-harming, thoughtless, pointless bit of mischief the human race gets up to in its quest to make life just that little bit more completely excruciating.

Tired of living in a shit-hole, I took to the streets armed with a couple of big bags, a pair of gloves and a hefty dose of vim and self-righteousness and began clearing up. In about an hour I’d scanned the street up and down and had collected 26 plastic bottles, 31 glass bottles and 56 cans of booze and fizzy pop. Mostly booze; like I say, the place is a shit-hole. They all found their way to recycle bins and thus the world’s resources were saved, the community took a greater pride in itself, its children applied themselves in school, convinced they had a future, and all but one of them now work as doctors, teachers and social workers. That last one fell in with a bad crowd from the end of the street where I’d left three cigarette butts and a half-empty bottle of Vimto but, damn it, there has to be some element of personal responsibility here.

This place being a hole, it’s not just cans, bottles and rusty lemon zesters that find themselves out on the street. For the past few months we’ve been sharing the pavement with a fridge. I’ve been walking past it shaking my head for weeks but, damn it, a shaking head doesn’t do much in this cockeyed caravan so I phoned the council and reported it. They picked it up two days later, leaving the street free of electrical appliances, their number on speed dial, my eyes peeled for the next bit of dumping and my chest puffed out with pride like the self-aggrandising prick I am.

And it doesn’t stop there. With the National Spring Clean about to begin I’m going to get stuck in good and proper. For now, you can enjoy these photos taken before and immediately after my clean up efforts.



Photo credit: The Zero/Charles O’Rear