“Summer is here, let’s head to the beach” is the best shout out in Scotland during a heatwave.

We are blessed in this country to have some of the most stunning lochs, rivers and beaches. I am sure you’ve heard the old adage “If we had the weather here, we would never go abroad”. Except in Covid times, many holidays will be domestic until it’s safe to head onto a foreign coastal resort.

Thousands of Scottish people will be flocking to our small beach towns and caravanning through the Highlands and this is good news for tourism at home, but if the recent reports are anything to go by, many people are leaving their litter and discarded picnic rubbish behind and letting the local folk clean up after them.

I read online from the small but beautiful resort town of Oban on the banks of The Firth of Lorn and local residents have to pick up all the detritus that visitors happily leave behind after a day of burning sausages on the sand. Daily clean ups are required as dog poo, broken glass, burned out barbeques and empty ‘carry outs’ are simply dropped on the wee beach as many people pack the weans up and head to the carpark.

“What a brilliant day” they say with sun kissed faces as the throw their rubbish into the water and shove cans and plastic bags into the rocks. Who are these people?

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I watched footage of the litter that ends up in the water, like glass bottles bobbing on the shoreline and it’s a fact that local birds will be affected by the sheer amount of dangerous plastic packaging thrown into the bushes.

People can say “But the bins are full” all they like, but what is up with bringing a big binbag with you, clearing up your area and shoving that into the car to take up the space that your picnic left behind when you carried it onto the sand?

There are no excuses for leaving anything behind on a beach, that you brought into it. No reason whatsoever, I can’t think of any excuse where it’s acceptable to leave all your strewn, spent food purchases, unless you had to run from the coastline because a giant shark attacked, which is unlikely in Loch Long or any wee costal area in Scotland.

Many and I mean millions of people do pick up behind them when they visit places, but it only takes a minority of visitors to leave their rubbish behind for it to cause problems for local people. They have to step up to the plate in their own communities and clean up their own area to keep wildlife safe and the beach clean for their own families.

“The broken glass in the sand can be so dangerous” said one local man who lives beside another beautiful seaside loch, to an STV news reporter and added “My wife was in the garden and some empty cans got thrown over the fence, we caught the people and the cops attended the incident”.

I love Scottish beaches, we did a short fantasy film in pre-Covid times about ‘’the last mermaid’ concerning environmental issues, so we had props people deliberately ‘litter a small patch of a beach’ for a segment about waste in the water and every five minutes, local residents came around to pick it up.

We assured them it was for a ‘scene’ and they stood by and watched us clean up behind ourselves. Which we did, quite rightly so. I was horrified that they thought we would leave it lying there. But that’s what they are used to.

These local people have such pride in their area and they must be disgusted and exhausted to see the mess that visitors leave when they are done enjoying their place. I know it’s vital for tourism to welcome visitors and keep the economy going but I imagine the locals must gird their loins when the sun appears in Scotland.

I am sure there are folk reading this who have cleaned up other people’s mess as they headed from beach to city, I know I have. Tutting loudly and going round shoving stuff into a bag to put in MY car as fully grown adults just ignored me as they pulled on flip flops and walked up the path with their kids. Not a thought given to the circle of rubbish they left at their feet.

I did want to shout at them, but held it in.

I just can’t get my head around any human being who travels hundreds of miles to sit up at “Rest and Be Thankful” to see the majestic sweeping view and then throw a polystyrene cup into the gorse as they do an Instagram selfie of the beauty of nature. But they do and it needs to stop.

No amount of signage and litter campaigns, although helpful, seem to stop it happening. It’s a mindset, it’s in some people’s heads to simply drop onto the ground the plastic triangle packaging of a sandwich, stare into the sunset and munch happily away as the plastic blows into the heather and will probably stay there for decades or until some wildlife creature tries to chew on it.

I don’t know the answer, I have shouted at people, shamed people and argued with adults when I see them thrown stuff on the ground. It’s not good, and ends up very confrontational because how dare I interfere in their day out. Who am I to tell them what to do?

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Exactly, that’s not the answer. Don’t do that.

We witness every sunny day at Kelvingrove Park, hundreds of people lying on the grass enjoying the weather, and that’s smashing to see, later we witness images on social media of the utter hell that is left behind and we shake our heads in disgust.

Are we a society that needs park and beach monitors to go round resembling ‘angry mammies and daddies’ to tell us how to behave in public? Is that who we have become?

I would happily don an ‘angry mammy’ tabard and do that job.