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The changing taste of tossers

Becky Collier
Martin Roundell Greene
By Becky Collier & Martin Roundell Greene

A volunteer’s rather worrying insight into the drinking habits of people who litter our lanes

My name is Martin Roundell-Greene and I am one of the many CPRE Somerset volunteers across the county helping to keep our little patch free of litter.

Last May my wife and I went litter-picking up Moolham Lane, the country lane just south of Ilminster off to the village of Kingstone. The extraordinary thing was that the great majority of drinks cans we picked up were not of Coke or Red Bull but of Thatchers Gold cider. OK, these were not alone. There were a few Carlsbergs, Stellas, Woodpecker ciders and so on. But the popularity of Thatchers Gold far outpaced the rest: we collected 33 empties. More worrying, alcohol easily beat fizzy soft-drink cans.
Last week I returned. If anything, the littering is worse. But the curious thing is that the Thatchers Gold empties had almost disappeared. Not only have the tossers forsaken Thatchers for other brands of cider – Strongbow, Woodpecker, Woodgate etc. – but there’s also been a marked shift in the tossers’ taste from cider to beer. Now, Stella Artois leads the field, hotly pursued by Galereux (Lidl), with Kronenburg and Heineken bringing up the rear.
A change in taste, perhaps, but not in alcoholic strength. For instance, Thatchers Gold and Stella are both 4.8% ABV (alcohol by volume). Woodpecker is ‘only’ 3.5% but Kronenburg is 5%. The cider brand that really brought me up was K Cider, which weighs in at a sobering (unless you’re drinking it) 8% ABV.
A woman drew up the other day and thanked me. “Well done,” she said. “This littering’s disgusting. I’ve got a week off work next week and I think I’ll do some too.” Good idea, but remember there are some motorists driving around with a lot of alcohol in them. For safety’s sake, wear something bright so you can clearly be seen.* And keep spreading the message, tossing litter from cars is completely unacceptable behaviour: it’s lazy, disgusting and dangerous.

Martin Roundell Greene Ilminster

If you live in Somerset, you can sign up as a #2minute LItterpick Volunteer and CPRE Somerset can kit you out with a picker, gloves and hi-viz vest if you commit to a regular litterpick in your area. 

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A pile of cider cans which had been litterpicked
Martin Roundell-Greene