Jack’s Walk

This must be where the bluebirds live. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I occasionally circumnavigate a small wooded area that lies behind our local middle school. It’s an uninviting, snarly sort of place, all tangled with vines and thick with underbrush, so we’ve never ventured past the perimeter, until today, when a do-goodness adventure invited us inside.

“Mommy, you’re going to need a garbage bag,” Jack called out as he ran ahead.
“Right here,” I said, reaching into my pocket for a poop bag.
“That’s gonna be too small, Mummy. We need a big bag to clean up this mess.”
As I got closer, I could see that he was right. The entire area was littered with aluminum cans, discarded water bottles, and bits of paper. I sighed and reached into my inside pocket for a reusable shopping bag.
We began by walking around the woods, and after one pass, my bag was nearly full, and I had that do-good kind of feeling. Next, it was time to work our way into the brush, and I called out,
“Bubba, where is the easiest place for me to go into the brush? Someplace not too tangly. ”
“Over here, follow me,” Jack said as he led me into the little woods. Once inside, we were met with a few surprises. First, we found several well trampled paths and open spaces, none of them visible from the perimeter, So… a hiding place.
Then, there was the stuff we found – beer cans (lots!), 2 empty liquor bottles, cigarette butts, used condoms (ick!) and condom wrappers, a used tampon (again, ick!), a single black sock and a disintegrating striped towel. So… a make-out place.
Jack and I spent the next half hour, picking up trash. I used a poop bag as a glove, and it wasn’t long before we had the place looking spic and span. After that, Jack and I hauled our trash to the school garbage can where we sorted our recyclables and tossed the rest. It took us nearly an hour to manage the job, and my gross meter was maxed out. By the end, I was feeling tired and sore, but positively glowing with do-goodness.

“Mummy, why do people throw things on the ground? The garbage cans are really close, why don’t people use them?”
“Most people do put their trash in the garbage, Bubba. In this case, I think it’s because they were kids doing grown-up things, and they were afraid of being caught.”

“Well, I think that if you’re too young to clean up after yourself, you’re too young to do the grown-up things,” Bubba said as he set out toward home.

“Yep, I agree, Bubbs. I agree.”


  1. says

    Bubba is wise indeed.
    The one thing I never understand about that kind of behaviour is, do these people actually enjoy wallowing in their own icky trash?
    Because obviously they went there more than once. It’s the same with people who don’t pick up after their dogs. Do they have a walking schedule with 50 different walks they go to one after the other so that by the time they return to walk #1 the poop has disintegrated?
    Well, good luck trying that with condoms…

  2. flexilis says

    Thank you and Jack for doing that. I live in a scenic area near major tourist spots. But the trash in the woods is mostly done by locals. I don’t know why. The weirdest litter I have ever picked up is a broken tv set. On an island in a river that someone had to wade across a knee deep channel to get to.

    For some reason anglers are the worst, leaving beer cans, bait containers and tangled fishing line. Yet they should be the ones who appreciate nature the most. Who knows. The good feeling you get from leaving a place nicer that you found it is balanced by the fuming you do inside when you think of the vandals who trashed it.

  3. says

    There is a theory that windmills kill birds. So I went to examine the area at the base of one. I found 22 empty beer containers and 2 used condoms -- no bats or birds.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    Fishing line is one of the worst things to leave behind. It gets wrapped around necks and feet of wildlife and kills them slowly. Cans aren’t much better, of course.

  5. says

    During my studies, I was on a walk through a park with my friends, and one of them threw a plastic wrapper on the ground. When I asked him why he does that when we are bound to pass a trash can sooner or later, he said that the park does not belong to him and it is therefore not his responsibility to keep it clean -- it is a public space and some schmoe will pick it up and clean it for him. He did pick it up eventually though because he was trying to impress his future wife and my scolding impeded his score.

    A few years ago I was on a mountain trip with mostly the same friends. I have cursed about assholes who litter the mountains and I picked up empty plastic bottles and cans. Guess who thought I am an idiot and did say so. Now that he is married, he no longer feels the need to keep up the pretense that he cares.

    In fairness, he is mostly a nice chap and AFAICT is a good husband and father. But on this one issue, he is a grade 1 asshole.

    I never understood the mentality of littering. It is easier to carry an empty bottle out of the woods than it was to carry the full one there. And wrappers weigh nearly nothing. To take your trash with you back and toss it in the trash can that stands in front of every household here is literally no extra effort at all. And people throw their trash in public spaces willy-nilly anyway.

    One of the many reasons why I do not believe in humanity. At all.

  6. springa73 says

    I also hate, and don’t understand, littering. It can get outright dangerous when people throw down and shatter glass bottles, leaving shards of glass for those walking or jogging by to step on. It might be my imagination, but it also seems to have gotten worse as I’ve gotten older.

  7. says

    I never understood the mentality of littering. It is easier to carry an empty bottle out of the woods than it was to carry the full one there.

    Exactly. Every piece of trash I “create” on a trip is something I brought with me in the first place, so I am clearly able to take it with me again.
    One of the most asshole behaviours I know (besides leaving dog turds) is leaving full diapers. One of our Pokémon routes starts at the local zoo car park. You can walk along the road next to the zoo and do the Pokéstops to collect items. We usually go there in the evening, after the zoo is closed. It’s a nice short walk even now, because there are streetlights and really few people. While the zoo was still open I saw full diapers on the ground more than once when there are several dustbins around. In the worst case somebody else doesn’t see it and drives over it. I’d ask “what kind of person does this”, but I usually teach their children. When ours were still in diapers we always had empty trash bags with us for the times when changing had to happen someplace without a dustbin and if we’d forgotten them then that would teach us a lesson in packing the diaper bag more carefully.

  8. Jazzlet says

    We regularly clean rubbish off the field we walk Jake in, quite often using the bag-for-life that the offenders used to carry the pre-rubbish to the site. We never have to buy new bags-for-life as we have so many from the field.

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