My thoughts: taking care of our places

brown and green grass field during sunset

Do you remember when we all had high hopes this would all be over in a few weeks?

I remember seeing a Facebook post from a friend. “what’s the first thing you will do when this is all over?” she asked. Replies varied from “giving everyone I know a big hug” to “go on holiday”.

If only it were that simple.

Here we are, heading into August, wandering around with face coverings on and still aren’t hugging everyone we know. Some have been abroad, only to return to home confinement by order of the government.

The hot sunshine, initially seen as the anecdote, does not seem to be the solution. Temperatures rise and fears intensify. Talk of a second wave dominates. Anti-vax and conspiracies abound.

When restrictions imposed on slowing the spread started to ease thousands of us headed for the open air; the big landscapes, the ebb and flow of the sea, and rolling hills.

You would think then that we would appreciate our landscapes; the freedom they offer, the clean air they provide, the restorative balance they give.

But, no. It would seem a great many people don’t.

Right now, mountain rescue teams are dealing with a ‘tidal wave’ of avoidable rescues, countryside rangers are finding human waste in popular picnic areas and camping paraphernalia is discarded across the countryside like sweet wrappers.

I know the last few months have been unforgiving but I must have lost the ‘let’s go feral’ memo. Frankly, it is depressing that so many seemingly have so little regard for these places and those who end up, quite literally, picking up the crap.

I guess it goes without saying there are lots of people who don’t behave like this, but I cannot remember a time when it has been this bad.

I wondered where this emotional disconnect comes from. Is it partly to do with pandemic? A lack of understanding? A consequence of our throw-away culture or an attitude that ‘someone else will deal with it? Maybe it’s a combination.

It simply doesn’t make sense in this #BeKind age that we are unable to apply those same principles to the world we live in.

Whether you are aware or not, every action we take sends out a message and has a consequence.

Over-consumption, dumping waste and harm habitats and wildlife creates fertile breeding ground for further health emergencies. We never truly walk away from the damage, we just pass it on.

In time, we will suffer the consequences. It won’t be the likes of me and you; it’ll be those who come after us. They will inherit the repercussions and responsibilities of our collective abuse of the environment, and of our failure to look after people and planet.

Full honesty here: I argued with myself about publishing this post as I was worried about coming across as a ranty/preachy old so-and-so. The thing is; I don’t have all the answers and sometimes I feel as if my writing should conclude with some sort of solution.

Then I figured a good enough antidote was to speak up.

Regardless of where you are in Great Britain, we live in a country of great beauty; one where history is written into the fabric of the landscape. One of megaliths, medieval fortresses and mountains. One of wild moors, woodland valleys and winding rivers. One of cathedrals, charming villages and chalky cliffs.

Let’s work harder to look after it. We can do that right now. Big change starts small – for example not leaving a trace of your presence or being conscious of the Countryside Code.

The journey towards positive impact requires us all to do our bit every day.

While I don’t have all the answers, I can make my stance clear. I can speak up, amplify, take action, encourage others and repeat. I’d urge you to do the same too.

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I'm a writer, journalist and communications officer based in the South West of England. I write about wellbeing, the outdoors and life in a rural playground.

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