Litter lessons from a Chilean cyclist
“Don’t drop your litter and spoil this beautiful scenery!” is a message from a Chilean cyclist travelling on the NC500 in the Highlands.
Rodrigo Salvatierra Arraño, a mechanical engineer from Santago in Chile, is half way on his seven month tour of Europe, having started in Spain in May.
Rodrigo met with Councillor Trish Robertson, Vice Chair of the Council’s Places Committee, at Inverness Castle (on 23 August). The castle is the start and end point of the world famous NC500 route.
He said: “The Highlands are beautiful and remind me of the scenery in Patagonia. It is a shame that it is spoilt in places by litter.
“Whilst cycling on the beautiful Highland roads I noticed some plastic bottles at the side of the road. I picked these up and then I saw some cans and more things. I had cycled for about 5km and by this time I had filled all my panniers with litter."
litter collected by Rodrigo along part of NC500
“I also noticed that a lot of people are leaving rubbish beside the bins instead of inside of them, especially when they are full. The cities and bigger towns are probably cleaner than the cities in Chile, but in the countryside the contrast is more noticeable – the beautiful scenery and the waste!”
He added: “I'm really impressed with the resemblance between the Highlands and Chilean Patagonia and it would be really sad not to take the proper care to maintain it, so everyone can enjoy it.”
Councillor Robertson thanked Rodrigo for collecting the rubbish and taking it to a bin and for highlighting the issue. She said: “Highland is growing in popularity with tourists from across the world and we want to preserve our beautiful environment and show it to the best advantage. I appeal to both visitors and locals – put your litter in a bin or take your litter home with you. On no account should anyone throw their litter out on the side of the road.”
She added: “We will be looking at what we can do with partners to tackle this growing litter problem. This will include looking at whether we need some more bins and also our collection regime in remote parts. We will do our bit, but we also need everyone else to do their bit too. We all have a responsibility to keep our country beautiful!”
Rodrigo with Cllr Robertson, Vice Chair of Places Committee
Tom Campbell, Managing Director, the North Coast 500, commented:
“Recently, we have been alerted to quite a few incidents of littering on and around the route. This issue is not unique to the North Coast 500, and it’s not a new problem, but it’s certainly more obvious in rural areas.
“I think everybody acknowledges it is something that needs to be addressed. Although people are ultimately responsible for picking up their own litter, there is definitely more everyone could collectively be doing to help. With this in mind, the North Coast 500 Working Group, which is led by the public sector, has recently set up an environmental sub-committee and this will be high on their agenda. We’re also looking at our own marketing channels to get the message across to visitors.”
Next stops for Rodrigo are Skye, Austria and Ireland. Councillor Robertson thanked Rodrigo for visiting the Highlands and wished him well on his tour.
Rodrigo Salvatierra Arraño
Rodrigo with Councillor Trish Robertson