Wombles around Blawhorn

Blawhorn NNR

A quick jaunt to Blawhorn last week for a once-over quickly turned into a more extensive litter pick around the car park track entrance. This area isn’t within the reserve boundary, but needs must – it’s not getting to the bin by itself! But for such a simple activity, litter picking is one that, for me, always evokes a lot of emotions.

Disgust; from dog poo bags, to bin juices, to the evidence of, shall we say, ‘frisky’ activities?
It’s just gross. Anger; why don’t people just act responsibly!? Disheartened; will we return to just as much litter as before? Frustration; they clearly made the effort to carry this out here, why can’t they just carry it back? So much of this could have been recycled! Confusion; much like the person who, blank faced, told me “I don’t smoke” when I called them out on littering cigarette butts – why are people not more embarrassed or self-conscious about littering?

Pulling back the long grass revealed all kinds of treasure…

Seeing littered products that proudly advertise themselves as recyclable or re-useable is particularly ironic, if not quite amusing. But it does spark a much wider discussion about how effective recycling, as a concept, actually is. Would we do better to be reducing directly from the source? Do we really need half the products or brands that we find scattered about the world in the first place? Probably not…

No, I don’t think I will” – Litter Lout

The alternative side to this (literal) mess is, of course, to think of the positives. We’ve done our bit, however small, and that’s now a whole heap of rubbish that will no longer cause an immediate issue – whether that’s as a physical danger to wildlife, plastic pollution entering the food chain, or that it’s simply an eyesore. It’s also a task that always seems to bring with it positive interactions with the public. I have never, not once, taken part in a litter pick that hasn’t resulted in at least one meaningful conversation with a passer by. Whether it’s showing their thanks, empathy, chatting about the litter picking they do themselves, or making a point to call others out when they do litter. Truly, these little conversations help make it feel worth it. To know the work is appreciated, that what you’re doing doesn’t go unnoticed, makes you feel a lot better about being elbow deep in….goodness-knows-what.

There is also hope that it sets the seed. People walking or driving by might think on the fact they’ve actually seen someone removing public litter, and become encouraged to act more responsibly in future, or call others out for being irresponsible. Studies have also suggested that a clean environment can help prevent future littering. A messy environment diffuses responsibility – that person feels comfortable tossing their coffee cup onto the rubbish pile next to the overflowing bin, because ‘everyone else has’. Conversely, keeping things tidy can mean individuals become more aware that they are causing the problem. That same person doesn’t want to be the only one who drops their cup, so instead they carry it to the next bin, or all the way home. That’s what I’ll tell myself, anyway.

A total of 37 – now sparkling clean – Glen’s Vodka bottles. Only the finest for our litter louts.

For now, we can only do what we can do. If I’m feeling particularly stubborn, I may go back to finish off what we started, but we’ll have to wait for the first lot to be properly disposed of first! Our tonne bag full of litter was taken back to the store and all recyclables were given a clean before being divvied up into cans and plastic bottles, glass and scrap metal. This removed over half of the tonne bag contents, and we even found ourselves a small handful of goodies!
A cereal bowl in perfect nick after a wash (or several), an old horseshoe for some good luck, and even a brick hammer we can probably find some use for.

Begs the question as to whether they actually dumped broken items, or the items broke because they were dumped! Either way, after a few soap scrubs, this bowl looks good as new. Finders keepers…

If you’re reading this blog, we know we’re likely preaching to the choir. But let’s all remember to do our bit, take rubbish home, leave no trace – all that good stuff. A world without litter will be a beautiful one indeed.

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2 Responses to Wombles around Blawhorn

  1. Anne says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. You might like to read my take on littering in one of our popular national parks: https://somethingovertea.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/good-intentions-go-awry/

    Liked by 2 people

  2. lothianrecorder says:

    Good job; my oldest “use by date” last year was Monster Munch date 4-Sep-93 in Longniddry Bents, little changed in its 27 years there: https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fnkjJ5opew0/YEgbkZpjZ0I/AAAAAAAAFnw/OG03l7pa4qwytVHm92UxijYRB43gsdWSQCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_20210308_121939_small.jpg (from http://sedgewarbler.blogspot.com/2020/05/longniddry-bents.html)

    Liked by 2 people

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