Edinburgh’s streets are cleaner than ever before. At least that’s the bold claim made in the latest Keep Scotland Beautiful litter survey.
Shush. Be quiet for a minute. Can you hear the sound of jaws dropping to the floor all across the Capital?
No-one could be blamed for being incredulous at the very idea of the city being anything approaching a litter-free paradise.
You only need to take a look around you pretty much anywhere in Edinburgh to appreciate that litter remains a serious problem here, like in most parts of Britain.
No survey – no matter how glowing – is going to hide that fact. We shouldn’t, though, throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Keep Scotland Beautiful is a highly respected organisation and it doesn’t simply pull its findings out of thin air. It is clear that some progress is being made and we should recognise that.
In recent months, the council has embarked on a string of praise-worthy initiatives which appear to be starting to pay dividends.
The most high-profile saw the council and the News joining forces to tackle the scourge of dog dirt on the city’s streets. Our Dish the Dirt campaign helped catch ignorant owners who let their pets foul the streets after your calls helped direct city officials to the worst problem hot spots.
There have also been changes to the way trade waste is collected in order to cut down on the amount that ends up spilling on to the streets, while the council has teamed up with Keep Scotland Beautiful to organise Clean Up Scotland, a campaign involving a series of community clean-ups across the Capital.
Of course there are limits to what the council can do. A local authority can employ more road sweepers and wardens to dish out fines and organise its teams to make sure they are as efficient as possible. They are never going to solve the problem of litter-strewn streets on their own.
The responsibility also lies with each and every one of us – and that doesn’t just mean doing the decent thing and not dropping litter.
It means supporting campaigns like Clean Up Edinburgh in whatever way we can, whether that’s joining a litter pick or teaching our kids about the damage caused by littering.
Campaigns like this have the potential to win hearts and minds, and it is only by doing that that we can hope to make a bigger difference.