A mixed tidy-up

Cigarette butts in a doorway on Well Road Hill, Douglas

Cigarette butts in a doorway on Well Road Hill, Douglas

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Douglas Corporation ran its annual Big Tidy-Up event recently. It’s a great event, and Isle of Man Friends of the Earth is really glad that the Corporation’s Peter Macken and his colleagues put so much effort into making the project happen. It was an opportunity for everyone in the community to show a little love and respect for the environment. Naturally, the Green Centre and EcoVannin teams got involved. Cat Turner reports

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Cigarettes discarded on Well Road, Douglas

Cigarettes discarded on Well Road, Douglas

Muriel Garland, chair of Zero Waste Mann, organised litterpicks at various points in Douglas last weekend.

EcoVannin was tickled pink to be invited by an enthusiastic team of pupils from St Thomas’s, to help them beautify the wooded area of steps around the Manx Museum.

The youngsters were terrific – jostling to get kitted up, and competing to see who could put the most rubbish in sacks carried by their headteacher, Mrs Manser, and myself.

It was really good to see the pride they took in making the area look more presentable and loved. They’re a credit to their school and families.

It’s something that really gives me hope. Sometimes it feels a little bit like uphill work, persuading people of the benefits - to themselves, as well as others - of taking care of our environment.

Thankfully that’s hardly ever the case with children, and certainly not with those from schools that foster great values and a sense of community and responsibility. It was explained to me in no uncertain terms by a nine-year-old that if you let things get a little bit bad, other people think it’s okay to make it worse. But if you set a good example and make it cool to be clean and green, there’s a good chance they’ll copy that too.

Saturday was as productive, but perhaps a tad less uplifting. The team togged themselves up, and took to Well Road Hill, our regular ‘grot spot’, to do what they could. We made good progress and were clearly an arresting sight in our neon-bright tabards. I had to smile when someone asked me ‘...so, are you doing this for Community Service?’. Well, kind of...

We were feeling quite pleased with our progress until we happened upon an example of grottiness extraordinaire (see photos right).

I gather that there was once a cigarette bin on the wall, near the Well Road Hill entrance to Markwell House - but this was removed and staff asked not to smoke there any more. Clearly, that request fell on stony ground – we gathered bags and bags of cigarette butts from the pathway.

Now seems a good time to mention that at the Green Centre we often stock portable ashtrays. At just £1 a pop they’re cheap and easy to carry and mean you can take your dog-ends back to the nearest bin rather than treating a public place like your own personal rubbish-tip. I appreciate that many people feel they have to smoke, and doing it in the open air is perhaps better than in an enclosed space, but please the small bunch of smokey people who thinks it’s okay to leave butts everywhere, think again. Don’t share the detritus of your habits with the rest of the world - get yourselves a new cigarette bin, or pocket ashtrays, and maybe next year other members of the public won’t need to don their rubber gloves and clear up after you. Take a lead from the terrific kids of St Thomas’s, and show a little love and respect for yourself, your surroundings and the rest of us.

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