AS we emerge from lockdown, the excitement of congregating in public open spaces is high: sunshine and warm weather beckon.

Freedom, at last! But, oh dear, the litter!

Open spaces across the country deluged by rubbish. Photos and videos from Cardiff, Sheffield and locally too show a trail of trash on social media. Council workers and volunteers strive tirelessly at early hours to clear up the mess. All better now as the last municipal truck carts away the debris. For the moment anyway.

But who to blame? Not enough bins? Sloppy people? A consumer driven society? Perhaps all of these things.

Here, in Southampton, the council have put out over 140 high tech Big Belly compactor bins in the hope that increased capacity will reduce the need for visits to empty them. Hopefully this will help.

But there are huge problems with waste disposal and we now know that they are global and growing. We’ve all seen Blue Planet and birds choking on plastic litter. So, there’s got to big a big shift in attitudes, behaviour and what we do with what we don’t want.

The mantra Reduce, Reuse, Recycle really matters – and the order matters crucially too. Less in the first place is obviously a good place to start.

But asking people to consume less in a world where the media systematically brainwashes us into wanting the next big thing is a tough call. Is your telly as big as your neighbours? Should you ‘upgrade’ your kitchen or computer? Will your old phone do 5G?

But go there we must, particularly when official reports tell us that prosperity comes at a devastating cost to nature; that we are consuming 1.7 planets’ worth of resources and that millions of tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year.

In Britain, action on recycling is woefully behind.

Where is our DRS Deposit Return System? Countries like Norway have had RVS Reverse Vending Machines for decades, as have Germany and many other countries too. A worthwhile deposit on a bottle redeemed after use has seen recycling rates rocket to over 98 per cent elsewhere. Littering decreases dramatically too. But where are we? Action has been mooted, but there seems to be interminable delays.

As we survey the rubbish strewn across our parks and wild and open spaces we know we should care for them better. We must move urgently: there is much to be done.

Rose Nicole

Cobbett Rd, Southampton