Why we shouldn’t be angry at the council for asking us to clean our streets

Rubbish is piling up in some areas. What are we going to do about it?
Rubbish is piling up in some areas. What are we going to do about it?

This week’s row over litter picking has brought a few thoughts to the surface.

It all kicked off when Fife Council’s Safer Communities team posted a picture on Facebook asking for volunteers to “Adopt-A-Street” in their area and pick up rubbish.

The post even offered to give residents their own bags and gloves.

Obviously there was a backlash, and it wasn’t long before social media commenters made their feelings clear.

Working for a news organisation, you get to see a lot of online reactions, where people’s true opinions can come through loud and clear.

Social media can be an absolute cesspit sometimes, so there’s probably an irony there somewhere regarding the need for a clean-up.

But on this occasion there was nothing too offensive – just a largely one-sided argument asking why people should do the council’s job for them for free.

My own first reaction upon reading it was to wonder if the council tax was going to come down for those who participate, or if this could lead to the council cutting front-line refuse staff.

But knee-jerk reactions aside, there’s definitely another side to this. I’m actually quite divided over how I feel about it.

Ask yourself this: Would you like to see your area look better?

Are you waiting on the council to do it for you?

Do you believe your street is such a priority to the council that they will take care of the problem ahead of all others on their list?

Why? Because they don’t care about one area specifically, rather they’re looking out for the whole of Fife.

Who cares about the cleanliness of your street more than you?

Regardless of how ham-fisted the council’s efforts were in asking for volunteers, focus on the outcome here.

What you want is for all the litter and rubbish that plagues our streets to be gone.

You’re thinking “someone else can do that.”

Whether it be the council or whoever, “someone else can do that”.

Sure it’s asking for volunteers, not demanding conscripts, so you can ignore the post and just hope someone else cleans up the street.

Maybe the council will sort it out, and within a few days it’ll be back to normal again.

Or, maybe some of your neighbours will take it upon themselves to spruce up the area, pick up all the litter and show how much they care about the street.

And after they’ve done a few sweeps of the area, it’s finally looking great and gets regular clean-ups, they might start thinking, and quietly talking . . .

They’ll talk about the lazy so-and-so who lives down the street and was moaning so much on Facebook about the problem but has so far failed to lift a finger to help.

That’s when they’ll look at the people like me who watch from the sidelines and react angrilly online but actually do very little.

Maybe I should get off my backside and volunteer to pick up the litter.

Except for the dog mess that is. Someone else can do that.