While we are out walking we pick up the obvious litter, plastic bottles, chocolate bar wrappers and cans. We never pick up cigarette ends, although it is said they make up a huge portion of the country’s litter. We also never pick up those small plastic bags that are tied in a knot and are full of dog faeces, although we see them almost everywhere. We do pick up items of clothing that earlier walkers have dropped or left behind. I wrote about our lost property box a few years ago that now has multiple odd gloves in it waiting for a match. Some of these gloves are in use; for example my winter cycling gloves were both found. They don’t match but being black it’s hard for anyone to tell as I flash by. Neither of us will never need to buy a hat again.
While we were in Ullapool on our recent Scotland trip we had a litter misunderstanding. We took a walk up the hill above the town. The path is surrounded by sweet smelling gorse and rewards your effort with a panoramic view over the prettily positioned Ullapool and Loch Broom; I am always happy here. Near the start of the path we found an almost full roll of unused dog poo bags on a bench. We looked around, there was no dog or person in sight. It wasn’t clear how long they had been there but in our experience people rarely come back for small items and they become litter so we stuffed then in the side pocket of the rucksack.
On the top of the hill we were enjoying the amazing view when a couple with a dog joined us. We both had the same thought at the same moment, maybe they could use our find. Smiling kindly at the dog-owning couple we said hello and then asked, ‘Do you use dog poo bags?’ They immediately became defensive, no doubt expecting us to launch into a tirade about dog fouling [I can do this] and clearly feared that we would soon be accusing them of fouling the paths of Scotland. We had to hurriedly explain that we had found some bags, had no need of them and wondered if they could use them. They immediately looked relieved and, once the misunderstanding was cleared up we laughed and chatted amiably. They went on their way with our find of the day and will put it to the appropriate use.
Sometimes litter finds are so bizarre I make up stories about the people who have dropped the litter and why. On a walk near Port Logan in Galloway we started counting the cans of Red Bull we saw flattened and scattered down an otherwise gorgeous grassy lane lined with wild flowers and between fields of sheep. When we reached 20 cans we gave up counting! The track was clearly used by a farmer and I imagined him to be over-worked and sleep deprived during lambing and getting through in a haze of energy drinks. I can’t even guess why he didn’t have the energy to take the cans back to the farm! Of course the Red Bull cans could be from a regular local walker too but we saw no other hikers the day we were there.
In Morecambe we pick up an empty half bottle of cheap vodka from a ginnel near our local Co-op most times we are out, sometimes even two. We pop them in our recycling bin and the bin men must think we have quite a habit! We assume this is young people drinking outdoors at night but have never knowingly met the drinkers. I really hope they’re not drinking alone.
It seems there will always be litter for us to pick up, some of it useful and some of it just rubbish. I’m waiting eagerly for the deposit scheme on plastic bottles to start and then I can get rich from my pickings!