Voices of the Future: Don’t blame all students for the minority who trashed parks in Leeds

As lockdown eases and the rule of six is now allowed outdoors, gatherings in parks have spilled into large outings between students, leaving a carnage of litter behind.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 11:43 am
NEGATIVE PERCEPTION: A small minority has damaged student relations in the city.
NEGATIVE PERCEPTION: A small minority has damaged student relations in the city.

This irresponsible and selfish discarding of waste has left a huge stain on the image and reputation of young people in Leeds meaning a small minority have damaged student relations with those in the community.

Whilst a certain group of students see it as acceptable to bend the rules and discard waste, viewing its clean up as the responsibility of others, this is not the case for most young people. Given the current climate crisis, more people than ever before are engaged and passionate about keeping parks clean, which makes incidents of littering evermore disheartening.

“More needs to be actively done to prevent things like this from happening regularly”, said Maddy Raine, a student and passionate environmentalist.

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Third year University of Leeds student Lydia Geronikolos agrees. “You wouldn’t sit in someone’s garden as is now legally allowed and leave lots of rubbish there so what’s the difference when it’s a park? It’s not your property so you should respect it.”

Yet despite the good will of many young people, there is no hiding the current scale of Leeds’ littering problem.

Whilst individual responsibility is crucial to keeping parks clean, suggestions have also been made to increase education around environmental issues and for councils to provide more cleaning services, including increased bin facilities.

“I do think that there should be more bins because a lot of the bins near me are overflowing”, said Orla McAndrew, a local student from Birstall. Many also argue that too much blame is placed on students when littering is a problem affecting all generations in society – an issue which everyone needs to collectively improve.

“I’ve seen baby parks and playgrounds with no social distancing between families and young kids and I think it is harsh to blame everything on young people”, added Lydia.

The discourse surrounding litter and its impact on our local parks is hugely important and something which should not just be reserved to the carnage seen on bank holidays and weekends as Covid restrictions ease.

Whether it be Roundhay Park or Woodhouse Moor, green spaces have been a lifeline for many during lockdown.It is therefore hugely important that we take care of them, allowing all of the community to access and enjoy them safely as well as respecting hard working litter pickers.

Most students have good intentions when tackling this issue, as spotlighted by the recent bin bag solution at Hyde Park. Let’s focus on these glints of positivity rather than letting the negative perceptions of a small minority define us.