We’ve been reminded, have we not, of the dangers of plastic and how it affects seabirds and marine life; even affecting the food we eat because of the plastic microscopic particles potentially entering our digestive system. Locally, The Nautilus Project has been a frontrunner on marine issues of late especially, and are seriously committed to getting the message across in schools, other institutions, on boat trips and even walks, along our shoreline.

It can’t be said we are not constantly reminded of our modern-day list of do’s and don’t’s, like encouraging the use of flasks or bottles to be refilled at a number of cafeterias and bars with tap water (which is fine in Gib) and cutting down on plastic carrier bags. Also putting the message across is – and have been for many years now – The Environmental Safety Group (ESG) with their clean-up campaigns year in year out, and their promoting all matters regarding the environment and ‘better living’, not letting any day or week pass without checking what developer or government department may be crossing the red lines!

The Alameda and Botanic Gardens are not frequented as much as they should be.

Meanwhile, let’s remind ourselves that the constantly-used word ‘environment’ means everything that’s around us, whether living or non-living, including buildings, roads, and of course, the air that we breathe – hence the popular push for more cycling and the use of electric cars, if you must drive! And then there’s the ‘green’ word. “We must see more green around the place,” I hear you declare! Well, there have been improvements. We have the Commonwealth Park, green on buildings’ rooftops, over-hanging greenery from balconies on new developments, pretty flowerbeds at the Trafalgar Interchange, the Waterport Roundabout (pity about the drab water fountain), Ocean Village and other places – and there are promises of much more to come, especially with all the building projects coming on stream.

We have the Alameda and Botanic Gardens which many citizens point out are not frequented as much as they should be, although young children are having a great time learning more about flowers, plants and the like, by attending fun, group sessions organised by the Gardens’ enthusiastic team. There are trees and other ‘greens’ around the place that have been there forever, but stand unnoticed. Many tourists take pictures of the Law Courts’ gardens and the balconies of the flats opposite, next to where I live in Main Street; I see them quite often.

Someone said to me, “But there are nooks and crannies and other little corners that can be made more of, which are looking bare and scruffy.” Then we have our street furniture which in many cases could do with a good lick of paint, including the planters at Casemates and elsewhere; they have more ‘greens’ in them and the newly built park at Governor’s Parade was recently, already looking a bit tired and a tad unkempt. But it has to be said, there are efforts to encourage ‘green.’

Our street furniture could do with a good lick of paint.

The Horticultural Society has become alive again, encouraging planting and gardening where possible in patios and window boxes. Then we have our hundreds – or is it thousands these days? – of dog walkers, who genuinely seem to be taking the environment on board more seriously also, picking up and spraying their animals’ contributions on our pavements with detergent infused water, well done to you, but there are still a few, stubborn individuals who don’t pick up…naughty!

Streets are to be flushed more often, and not just Main Street, we hear from the new street cleaning company. They need to be tackled more often especially during the summer months and so far, there have been some improvements – we’ll see how things progress. But it can’t all be left up to the authorities’ relevant departments and private companies. We too have to play our part and be more conscious of what’s around us and how it could look better. It’s called civic pride and we need more of it and it doesn’t hurt to be little more considerate when putting out rubbish for collection at the wrong times and other practices. Avoid giving unsightly impressions to passersby, visitors and locals alike. Europa Advance Road is the place to deposit unwanted household items, large or small. Restaurant and Bar owners need to flush out their frontages by removing tables and chairs – some do.

And so we arrive at… “Gibraltar doesn’t look the same anymore with so much building going on,” a common fanfare heard these days around our busy town. “It’s being spoilt, not the same anymore, it’s lost its character!” Well, on that one, I think it’s one to ponder over. First of all most, if not all of the high developments going up are being built outside the City Walls, just like Marbella has Puerto Banus and other areas away from El Casco Viejo – the old town on the upper side of the coast and beaches. The difference there, it’s looked after and preserved. Surely we can do the same?

It’s called civic pride and we need more of it.

There have been some improvements in restoring our Upper Town, but yes, there’s a need for more. It seems to go too slowly; we all point it out but not a lot gets done or not as fast as we’d like to keep it spruced up and its character alive. I think many of us have talked about how scruffy Devil’s Tower Road and that northern area of the Rock looks (or better said, looked). It’s always been the industrial area of Gibraltar so now there’s a lot going on down there and a number of developments up and running and others on the go.

“Too much development, too many high-rises, spoiling the area,” so on and so forth. Well, those too are outside the City Walls and good for Gibraltar’s companies, making developers richer, true, but helping businesses prosper in town and elsewhere in many ways and lest we forget, keeping individuals in employment and providing more jobs.

Not all the flats sold are for investment purposes – some are lived in. There’s also office space for more companies wanting to relocate here and other benefits. Regarding other developments going up closer to town, such as Eurocity, if one puts one’s hand on one’s heart, in some cases not all, are the complaints ‘against’ solely due to the environment and “too much building going on,”? Or is it the inconvenience of dust and disruption for two or three years and loss of light and the “spoiling of my view” that’s uppermost in the complainant’s mind?

So how does a government boost their coffers? Where do they build then? Nowhere?

So while the jury is out on some of our architectural issues ruling the talk about town, let’s concentrate on a couple such as the #PawsOffStraws and refill campaigns… whilst Brexit looms!