By: Blonde Two

If, like me, you enjoy visiting the Dartmoor National Park Authority website from time to time, you will know that it is packed with useful and interesting information.  Indeed, you can find out almost anything that you need to know about our beautiful moors.  On most pages, you can also see some lovely Dartmoor images.

Sadly, this is not true of one particular page http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/visiting/vi-caringfordartmoor/litter The “Litter” page of this fabulous website has some rather upsetting images of rubbish and mess left behind on some our recent hot weather days.

If you take the time to read the information on the “Litter” page, you will find out that the current cost to the National Park of disposing of litter is £20,000 per year – that is without counting the cost of staff and volunteer time.  That is a lot of money and the sad thing is that it wouldn’t need to be spent if people had just a little bit more understanding.

I am sure that nobody reading a blog about walking on Dartmoor would dream of dropping rubbish.  It is more likely that most of us have spent time picking it up. I had to do a stealth manoeuvre to retrieve a banana skin that a very nice looking lady had dropped the other day.  I didn’t give her my much practised “Litter Talk” because I didn’t want to spoil her day and, to be honest, was a bit cross with her.  Silly really because she probably left a trail of banana skins for the rest of the day.

I have been thinking long and hard about the problem of litter and trying to find reasons why people don’t take their rubbish home with them.  Dartmoor National Park Authority work hard to solve the problem and have an excellent campaign slogan, “Love where you visit.”  In order to preserve my faith in human kind, I try to avoid thinking that people just don’t care.  If they didn’t care about open, outdoor spaces then they would not have driven all the way to Dartmoor in the first place, would they?

I prefer to think that lack of education is the issue.  People are maybe not taught that their behaviour has an impact on their environment.  This may sound obvious to us but we were all probably set a good childhood example by the adults around us.  Again, the NPA does an excellent job and offer a wide range of educational services.

I don’t pretend to have any really useful answers.  I think, maybe to start with young people would be a good idea.  Us older ones don’t like being told what to do and can get a bit grumpy.  The Two Blondes experience suggests that youngsters are open to suggestion, willing to innovate and exert a certain measure of influence over their parents.

This is  a horrid and upsetting problem and thanks must go to all those who spend time clearing up.  Please don’t despair for the world yet though.  There is hope – witness one of our teenagers who arrived for her Duke of Edinburgh Expedition with her sweets all pre-unwrapped so that she wouldn’t risk any wrappers blowing across the moor.