LITTER: Businesses should act

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I write in response to your story ‘Fury as beach is left like a rubbish dump’, (News Guardian, June 1).

I was already extremely angry about the state that our coastal area was left in over the bank holiday weekend and the story reflected my own thoughts and feelings.

On the Friday of the bank holiday weekend I ran along the path above Tynemouth Longsands to the Grand Hotel and back.

By the time I returned home I was so incensed by the amount of litter that had been left on the streets that I immediately went back out with bin sacks and started collecting the rubbish.

That morning I concentrated on recyclable plastics and cans and collected four full black sacks of these from Tynemouth Longsands – and that was limited by the amount of bin sacks I had.

This brings me to the main point. The businesses that benefit from their coastal location and contribute to generating the litter must do more to look after the environment they depend on for their living.

I collected 23 plastic chip forks. These are extremely harmful to wildlife as sea birds and mammals ingest them, mistaking them for food, and die. Why can’t they use wooden chip forks that will rot away?

It took me five minutes to improve the situation, collecting the discarded packaging and containers and placing them in bins.

More needs to be done to make businesses take this responsibility seriously. I know the response will be “it is not rubbish that we generate”, but they have a business because of their position on the beach.

The fact that they are there attracts people to that location to eat and consume tea and coffee, and regardless of who handed out the wrapped products, they end up in there because of the businesses’ presence, therefore I think it is their responsibility.

I was heartened by your article in one respect – the fact that other residents had been as disgusted as me and taken matters into their own hands.

There are local residents who, like me, enjoy the beach and do what they can to keep it in as good a condition as possible. I would like to reach out to these residents to come together so that our voices are heard by the local authority and the businesses.

I believe the council should be fining businesses that do not clean up and the public should put pressure on them to take action.

I suggest they can start by getting rid of the deadly plastic chip forks and returning to the wooden variety, and making the effort to clear up at night as part of their shutting up shop routine.

They should sponsor a litter-picking group. If they want their businesses to be seen in a favourable light, perhaps they could consider providing a free tea or coffee to group members when they are undertaking litter-picking to tidy up their beach?

They may even want to take part to show that they actually do care about the impact their presence has on the immediate surroundings.

I have created a website at www.litteractionnorthtyneside.org.uk and would like to invite local residents to contact me through this so that we can come together to co-ordinate our efforts and make our voices heard.

I would like to organise regular litter collection events and to put pressure on businesses that are failing to look after their environment.

Steve Beavis

Cullercoats