We need to take pride in our community, says Sir John Hayes MP
Our surroundings have a dramatic impact on the quality of life. Living in clean and attractive communities, of which we are proud, is vitally important for personal wellbeing and our collective sense of identity.
Every time I hear from a constituent about fly-tipping in south Lincolnshire, I share their indignation. We owe a debt to the farmers and land owners, who take time out of their working lives to clean up waste dumped on roadsides or by the edge of fields.
Meanwhile, Keep Britain Tidy reports that smoking-related, alcohol-related and fast food-related litter are all on the increase. Thankfully, volunteers in South Holland and the Deepings are determined to ensure that our area remains a beautiful home for those of us who live here and all that visit. Which is why I was so pleased to read in the Free Press about the work done locally by Mark Douglass and all those involved in his campaign to keep south Lincolnshire tidy.
Ensuring efficient waste collection services by our local councils and adequate provision for the disposal of litter, can go some way in addressing the symptoms of our throw away culture, but it is even more important to address the underlying causes.
Whilst it is easy to dismiss littering, fly- tipping and graffiti, they are perhaps the most immediate symbols of wider social decline. After all, far fewer people would damage and disrespect their local neighbourhood if they truly believed that their own sense of belonging was defined by it. In short, those who dump litter and rubbish are doing a disservice to us all.
As I reiterated in the House of Commons recently, careless corporate coffee shops and feckless fast food outlets must be compelled to take responsibility for the throwaway mentality that they have helped to create. Not a minute goes by without the needless waste of cups and cartons; bottles and bags, spewed out by big businesses intent on virtue signalling, but resistant to meaningful action.
Growing up, I was taught to value and sustain. It is testament to the irresponsible effectiveness of corporate propaganda that we are now encouraged to obtain plastic cartons of milk from distant megastores rather than have it delivered to the doorsteps of our homes in reusable glass bottles! Likewise, it is astonishing that shipping strawberries halfway around the world before we eat them is considered sustainable by the supermarkets.
At a local level, each of us can wage war on waste, by purchasing local produce from independent small businesses, committed to preserving and sustaining the natural environments in which they are rooted. Nationally, the Government has a duty to ensure that big businesses are operating in a manner that is in the national interest for the common good.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my friend Michael Gove, has heroically led the campaign against single-use plastic. Now he has the chance to go even further, by insisting on rigorous measures designed to drastically reduce packaging waste. We should, wherever possible, replace plastic and polystyrene with biodegradable paper and cardboard, or avoid packaging together.
It is our duty to honour the contract between the living and the yet to be born. If we do not take action to reduce waste now, we will leave our children with places uglier than they once were. To do so would be the height of selfishness.
As the great philosopher, Professor Sir Roger Scruton put it: ‘The propensity for settlement and stewardship is at the heart of conservative philosophy’. It’s time we all took an interest in the renewal of the time honoured values to sustain and secure.