#SheffRubbish: “People need to take responsibility for themselves and stop blaming the council.”

“People need to take responsibility for themselves.” This was the resounding response from the people of Sheffield as I walked down the leafy but traffic-heavy Abbeydale Road and asked them about the issue of fly tipping in the city.

A whopping 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans each year. With global population levels rising, it’s becoming increasingly important to limit waste, dispose of it responsibly and recycle when we can.

I took to Abbeydale Road where there had been reports of fly tipping on social media. I noticed several passers by seeing the sofa by the roadside and shaking their heads. When asking them what they thought of this, one of them said: “It’s just the result of a silly few who don’t care about anything.”

This sofa was thrown into this bed of nettles around two weeks ago, according to local shopkeepers. There was also a settee hidden behind a storage container just out of shot.

One passer-by felt Sheffield was clean overall and that the council do a good job of cleaning it up and deal with issues like this swiftly. A local shop owner said she hadn’t noticed the sofa, but admitted she was militant in ‘politely’ asking people to pick up any litter they dropped in front of her: “I respectfully say there is a bin for that.

“They seem to do a good job in terms of emptying the bins and I think that people need to take some responsibility for themselves, to be honest. It’s not the council’s fault that people are chucking rubbish where they shouldn’t be chucking rubbish,” she said.

So is the issue the laziness of a ‘silly’ few with a blatant disregard for the environment or does the blame lie elsewhere?  When I attempted to Google ‘recycling points in Sheffield’ to find out where the nearest site was if I’d had wanted to offload a sofa, I found the following:

Despite the unfortunate 404 “page not found” message,  Sheffield locals seemed to be uniformly behind their council. One lady told me that teaching children in school about the environment should be given more of a precedent as a means of instilling in young people a respect for the environment and for their surroundings, from a young age.

Does the solution lie in innovative ways of treating waste? 

We’ve seen from other stories on the #sheffrubbish hashtag today that there are small scale enterprises taking shape. Sophie Cockerham looked at 53 year-old Jon Johnson and his approach of helping stem the tide of waste we produce.

You can listen to Jon talking about his work here:

Ironically, this up-cycling enterprise was a few minutes walk from where the sofa had been fly tipped. The business makes furniture from items which might otherwise go to landfill. He now employs people on work experience and internships, with people volunteering from 18 countries.

Elsewhere, Grace Holliday spoke to an exciting food waste project run out of the Steeple Hill Cafe in Park Hill, and Patrick Culhane spent a morning litter-picking on the Ponderosa park with some intrepid locals.

Our campaign may have found many instances of litter blighting the city, but we’ve also found many solutions. The future might just be a little bit tidier.

Here are some of the responses, from the people of Sheffield, on the issue of fly tipping and waste disposal in general:

Get involved in the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #Sheffrubbish