Action 247: Don’t pretend the bin isn’t full

overflowingDate: 04 September
Action: 247
Cost of taking action: £/$/€ NIL


It’s amazing how overflowing bins seem to attract even more rubbish!

Today’s action is another contribution to reducing our littering problem, please avoid adding to litter bins that are already overflowing.

It sounds obvious doesn’t it; but unfortunately overflowing bins are a frequent eyesore in our parks, towns and on our beaches and seafronts. Many people leave bags of litter beside a full bin in good faith – they don’t realise the damage that can be done and are assuming, perhaps fairly, that the council or waste collection contractor will take those bags along with the content of the bin when it is emptied.

overflowingWhat really happens?

Waste left by the side of an overflowing bin is very easily scattered by the wind, rain, wildlife, birdlife (especially gulls and other scavengers), and non-too-well-behaved domestic cats and dogs.

Plastic bags of waste are often pecked or clawed open as wildlife is so used to feeding from our waste.

The weather does the rest, before long the carefully bagged and tied collection of picnic litter is strewn along the street, promenade or park pathway.

We also know that litter begets litter; once an area is littered, other people tend to be less caring of it and add further litter to the environment, compounding the problem.

Even if waste collection is made regularly, it only takes a few moments for it to be scattered – this is particularly the case in seaside towns where gulls and feral cats are on the case within seconds!

What to do

There are a two options:

  • bag your litter up and take it home with you. Carry a few bin bags (preferably biodegradable ones!) in your car or handbag so that you can tie it up and avoid the odours. When you get home, separate out recyclables and make sure your waste goes into the household waste management system
  • carry your litter a little bit further and put it in a different bin, one with enough space!

Another thing to do, if you can, is to encourage those responsible for emptying the bins to do so. For example, fast food restaurants will have responsibility for emptying the bins outside or near to their premises, or in busy town centres and seafronts there will often be council operatives present.

Take action

Please, next time you need to dispose of litter, think twice before just adding to an overflowing bin – you will be doing more harm than good by using it before it is emptied.