There has been much concern expressed about the deluge of litter that seems to have erupted over recent months.

On our recent Wanstead Village litter pick there was a lot of refuse left on the streets, including discarded plastic masks and gloves.

Whatever happened to the efforts to cut plastic waste? The whole idea seems to have gone out of the window with the Covid-19 pandemic. The land and sea continue to fill with plastic waste, as the activities of humankind gradually choke the planet.

Cycling along the canal recently between Hackney and Three Mills, there was litter piled on the towpath and thrown into the water.

Who do people think should pick up their rubbish when they just cast it aside?

Much of the present surfeit of litter is no doubt due to the way life patterns changed during lockdown. Many more people are going to parks. Pubs, restaurants and shops have been shut - all of these enterprises have processes for disposing of rubbish. Their absence has no doubt resulted in a displacement of rubbish disposal.

The reopening of these businesses should see some normality restored.

This though does not take away from the central question as to why human beings are such wasteful, destructive creatures. Why is there so much food waste? Can people not buy what they are not going to eat?

The rubbish creation and recycling debate continues but the real challenge is to not create the waste in the first place. Recycling is important but it is only part of the solution, the real answer is to stop creating waste.

The pandemic period has seen other forms of recycling of goods between neighbours via various social networks. This reuse of items is another positive move toward more sustainable living.

At another level, the amount of material piling up in skips as people tear houses inside out is another cause to question. Recycling and reuse of much of the stuff dumped into skips would also be welcome.

As said before, the pandemic has created a space for reflection on how we live our lives.

The community spirit released during this period has been a wonder to behold. Neighbours really looking out for neighbours, the mutual aid networks and fantastic donations to foodbanks.

Now is the time to plug into this well of goodwill, thinking of each other and the environment in a more holistic way.

The new way has to include a greater respect for our living environment, which means creating less waste, using less plastic and generally treading more lightly on the earth.

The next Wanstead Village litter pick takes place on Saturday, July 18 at 10am, starting from Woodbine Place (by the buses). All are welcome.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See