I was walking through the High Street this week and was totally appalled to witness a man come out of the paper shop, rip off the cellophane from his cigarette packet and carelessly flick it to the ground without even a second glance. Not only that, but he was two meters from a bin! I think my mouth must have been hanging open in disbelief because another pedestrian walking towards me, who must have also noticed this total lack of respect for the environment, glanced at me and shook her head as she passed.
Now, I will be the first one to admit that I can sometimes be quite hot-headed and I was quite close to approaching the guy and helpfully pointing him in the direction of the bin. In my head, I even rehearsed what I was going to say – it was going to be something along the lines of,
‘Excuse me, sorry, I think you may have missed the bin. It’s just there if you’d like to put your rubbish in it – we don’t all like living in a sh*t hole you know!’
However, something stopped me. How was I to know that this guy didn’t have serious anger issues and wasn’t going to yell at me then punch me in the face? If this guy had been in a suit and tie, I probably would have approached him, but he wasn’t, he was what I class as a ‘chav’ – Reebok Classics, jogging bottoms, polo shirt, cap, gold jewellery… and cigarettes. It was his image which stopped me and instead of standing up for what I believe in, I walked straight past him and let the cellophane blow down the High Street with the rest of the misplaced rubbish.
Isn’t it amazing how we put people into a little box within the first few seconds? Maybe I was wrong to stereotype him, maybe that guy would have politely replied to me, ‘I’m awfully sorry dear, it must have slipped from my grasp, I shall put it in the bin immediately’ – but I really don’t think he would have. I truly believe that his replied would have been ‘littered’ with French.
So what causes people have such different values? How can one person think it is quite ok to let their rubbish fall to the floor, whilst others like me, would never dream of it? I think that it has a lot, if not all, to do with upbringing. When I was a child, I was taught that rubbish went into the bin. If I was out and had an ice-lolly, my mum made me put the packet in my pocket until we came across a bin. I remember trying to sneakily drop a sweet wrapper on the floor whilst out with her once – of course, she saw me do it and I wasn’t allowed sweets for two weeks. It’s lessons like these which make us who we are – in my case, an anti-litter-bug. I guess other people, like the ‘chav’ I came across on the High Street, were not lucky enough to have parents with such good values like mine and so know no different? It’s a shame because if we all followed some basic rules, had a little respect for each other and our environment, the world would be a much nicer (and cleaner) place.