As coronavirus began its sweep across the world there was a call of urgency to keep people safe and precautions were put in place to keep entire populations in their homes, away from work, education and loved ones.

Concerns over the health and well-being of entire countries grew as a result of the virus and many lockdowns were initiated from as early the 13 March 2020. These measures were continuously put in place and only eased very slightly in the UK from late June. Giving us a summer a like no other before.

Due the extreme nature of Covid-19, Brits, like many others, were advised to remain in their own country for the duration of summer and staycations were heavily promoted to deter people from travelling abroad. Despite the boost to the local economy, this also brought bad news with it and it resulted in a huge increase in waste both within households and in public destinations such as parks and beaches.

Priorities which used to lie with our plastic intake are now based upon the health of the nation and the urgent need of finding a vaccine, leaving environmental issues to fade into the background. An immense increase in waste has accumulated on our beaches across the UK with takeaway wrappers and alcohol tins littering the sand and the water.

With many cafes and restaurants only open for takeaway it resulted in many taking to public spaces in the sunshine for their meals and ultimately leaving their remains behind rather than throwing them away for disposal with coastal towns, such as Cornwall, suffering the most. Residents of these areas were appalled by the lack of respect being given to these scenic towns with rubbish such as dirty nappies even being left behind.

During lockdown, when people were limited to their homes, a huge wave of boredom swept across the nation. This often resulted in a feeling for a need of change and declutter which saw many take to their wardrobes and throw away whatever old rags they felt they no longer wore nor needed. This saw a rise in landfill use and roadside dumping as many waste dumps were not open and charity shops refusing to take used clothes in.

Northern Ireland became an area largely affected by fly-tipping with their countryside roads becoming rubbish skips to the local residents. To reduce the number of these incidents happening, increased fixed penalties had to be enforced by council enforcement officers. Depending on the severity of the case, these FPNs could reach an amount as high as £2,500.

A call for change must be made and despite going through extreme unprecedented times, it is vital that we remain careful and vigilant when it comes to the welfare of our country. Statistics show that UK waste is constantly on the rise and our landfills are reaching capacity, it has never been more important to make others aware of the severity of the impacts that this can have on each individual inhabiting the country.

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