… Litter Picking: It’s not easy being green.

I’m rubbish at caring for the environment.

Maybe not full-on plastic landfill rubbish, but still rubbish.

But when the greenest thing about me is the sputum of my nine-year-old son as we walk along a busy road to school, I realise something needs to be done.

I console myself that I’m not as bad as I could be.

I mean, on the spectrum of greenness I’m not exactly using an ivory blue-whale harpoon as a toothpick to remove little bits of panda steak from my teeth, by the light of a bonfire of burning single-use computer equipment, bags for life and poor people.

But I’m at least half-heartedly sorted recycling, two car family, annual flights on summer holiday level rubbish.

Which is why the boy and I have taken up litter picking.

Now.  I am a boy, so attracted to hobbies with kit. 

Litter pickers are no longer the stick with a spike, which were the preserve of the thwarted park keepers shaking their fists at Minnie the Minx in 1970’s and 80’s Beano comics (from back in the day when antagonising public servants, possibly PTSD afflicted ex-World War 2 servicemen, was considered acceptable behaviour).

My litter picker, the StreetMaster ProXL , even though it sounds like it should be a motorbike, is a grabber par excellence.  An elegant weapon, for a more civilised age.  You know you want one.


So the boy and I take to the local park on the way home from school. 

Step aside Attenborough!  There’s a new womble in town.

It’s nice.

We like it.

We pick up more litter in an hour than either of us drop in a year.

We make litter pickerists’ chat.*

“Dad.  What’s your least favourite litter?”

“Litter dropped out of the windows of expensive German cars.  Absolutely inexcusable.  I mean, it’s not like Phileas Fogg having to drop excess weight off his falling hot air balloon as he tries to cross the Himalayas.  If an Audi is capable of carrying a full can of Red Bull, I suspect continuing to carry the empty can to the next rubbish receptacle isn’t exactly going to mash the suspension.  I’d have police marksmen waiting on the corners for them.  Scum!  And what is it with Red Bull cans?  We pick up loads of them.  And STILL the idle bastards can’t muster the energy to find a fucking bin!  PRICKS!  PRICKS, I TELL YOU!”

The boy takes a step back, frightened.

“Why?  What’s your least favourite, darling?”

“Dog poo bags hung up on trees.”

Ah yes.  Swingball for pixies.

The action of someone who thinks they’re helping the environment by leaving their rubbish (admittedly revolting but at least biodegradable rubbish) plastic-wrapped for future generations.

Now, since you ask about dog poo, it brings me on to the rules for litter picking.

One.  No dog poo. 

Litter picking good.  Parasitic toxocariasis bad.

Two.  Do not clear everything: do not do it weekly, don’t stress about sorting it for recycling too much. 

We’re doing this to make our surroundings better than we found it.  We don’t need guilt at not getting things perfect.  If I wanted to do it full time I’d get caught doing graffiti and the nice ladies and gentlemen at Community Payback would give me my own StreetMaster ProXL and a high visibility tabard for free and I’d be off.

Three.  Use a decent plastic bag to collect your litter in.  Don’t run the risk of the bottom falling out of your bag and being left in a park standing next to a pile of rubbish on the ground, which you then have to put into the hood of your son’s anorak and bribe him with sweets not to tell his mother about.

So go on. Give it a try.

You’ll feel better for it. 

If we all picked up just one more piece of litter than we dropped…  Well, admittedly that would leave us in some mathematically improbable negative numbers vortex.

But at least our parks would look nice.

*Thank you Mackenzie Crook and his magnificent “Detectorists”.  Watch it if you can.  One of my favourite programmes and still on BBC iPlayer. 

“The StreetMaster ProXL is a litter picker.  We are litterpickerists”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: