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Discarded face masks

Martin 888

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances ‘19 and ‘22, Camino Portuguese ‘22
Hello from Santiago. I just walked the last stage of the Camino Portuguese today from Padron up to SdC…..quite wonderful. This is a classic Camino stage at 26kms and full of variety, culture, history and beautiful countryside. In my opinion, a way nicer final walk into the city than the Camino Frances.
However, I feel compelled to raise something on this platform which was so unexpected and so sad.
About 4kms out from the Cathedral, the trail passes through a beautiful area of natural woodland, so close to the city. At the start of this stretch, some idiots had decided to hang a few used face masks in the trees…..an awful sight. This was then copied hundreds of times in the next kilometre or so by ‘sheep’ wanting to emulate the stupid idea.
OK….the very first rule of pilgrimage is ‘leave no trace’…..even compared to the masses of tissue left behind on the Camino Frances, this was worse. Don’t people realize that this material can take years to break down and decompose.
As if we haven’t all had enough of the pandemic, for locals and pilgrims alike, why would we possibly want to be reminded of it here. In fact, there could be pilgrims walking the trail who have lost a loved one during the pandemic.
We should not forget that we from overseas are guests in this wonderful country and generally welcomed by the amazing Spanish people who look after us so well. If I lived here and witnessed this, I would be far less likely to feel positive about the pilgrim community.
Please, please…..leave only footsteps along the way!
 

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John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
Some people really do some selfish things, probably thinking it is "cool", but NOT! Unfortunately, those who truly understand and try to live by the "leave no trace" principals - seem to be a minority. Or at least - the amount of trash makes it seem that way perception wise.

I don't want to see toilet paper, masks, clothes, shoes, ribbons, graffiti, and so on. Especially if done/left behind by visitors to the cities/paths.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The arrogance of human beings seems to have no limits. The Smithsonian had an article a while back about the danger of discarded masks to wildlife.


The elastic loops are essentially traps, just like the plastic rings that come on many 6-packs of beer or soda in the US.
 

Lindsay53

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2019
Portugues 2022
I walked past these trees last April. It is a pointless act that is an eyesore on an otherwise pleasant section of path. Given the number of these masks and that the path is close to the city and used by locals and other visitors as well as pilgrims, it's likely that pilgrims are not the main group responsible for this.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2007
An eyesore, a wildlife hazard. Nobody should follow this lead. It’s not good.

But if I were to play devil’s advocate…it does strike me that there’s never been a collective mourning ceremony over COVID-19. Assuming the best in people, perhaps they hang these masks as one such attempt? To say that they remember...?

On a small scale, I know that when we’ve suggested small rituals to mark “return to office,” with an idea of letting people process and share what lockdowns were like for them, the response was discomfort. The idea was nixed. People just wanted to be back to normal and obliterate that awful experience. The end result was moving ahead without much emotional processing.

I’ve no idea though. It's most likely just terrible litter, or people trying to make a silly statement divorced from real thought or emotion. But assuming the best, it might come from the desire to have some type of shared closure which never came to fruition? Best not to hang a mask there in any case.
 

Sharonih

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
Hello from Santiago. I just walked the last stage of the Camino Portuguese today from Padron up to SdC…..quite wonderful. This is a classic Camino stage at 26kms and full of variety, culture, history and beautiful countryside. In my opinion, a way nicer final walk into the city than the Camino Frances.
However, I feel compelled to raise something on this platform which was so unexpected and so sad.
About 4kms out from the Cathedral, the trail passes through a beautiful area of natural woodland, so close to the city. At the start of this stretch, some idiots had decided to hang a few used face masks in the trees…..an awful sight. This was then copied hundreds of times in the next kilometre or so by ‘sheep’ wanting to emulate the stupid idea.
OK….the very first rule of pilgrimage is ‘leave no trace’…..even compared to the masses of tissue left behind on the Camino Frances, this was worse. Don’t people realize that this material can take years to break down and decompose.
As if we haven’t all had enough of the pandemic, for locals and pilgrims alike, why would we possibly want to be reminded of it here. In fact, there could be pilgrims walking the trail who have lost a loved one during the pandemic.
We should not forget that we from overseas are guests in this wonderful country and generally welcomed by the amazing Spanish people who look after us so well. If I lived here and witnessed this, I would be far less likely to feel positive about the pilgrim community.
Please, please…..leave only footsteps along the way!
I so agree with you, I was aghast at how much senseless graffiti and trash there was on the Camino. I unfortunately saw so many memorials people left for loved ones, I know it was heartfelt and probably looked meaningful when it was left behind but unfortunately so many times by the time I saw them they were a soggy wind blow pile of trash.
 

Dickwilbur

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Prim, VF (Twice), VDLP, Moz, Lev
Last July before and after Medina del. Campo on the Levante the nests of Storks were flecked with little flashes of blue. Took me while to work out what they were. Pilgrim's, tourists, residents? What's the difference. I know I lost a couple somewhere on that camino, not stowed away properly careless/stupid of me? Yes. But to deliberately hang in the tree? Same mentality as those in the UK that do similar with their dog shit bags. Morons.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Grotesque. Though, as a more hopeful counterpoint, I have found and am still finding the Francès to have much less trash lying around, both this year and in 2021, than was the case in previous years.
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Time of past OR future Camino
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
I share the general disapproval of the practice and your disappointment with pilgrims who continue to uphold this invented tradition. Suspending detritus from trees, however, is not confined to the Camino. In this neck of the Irish woods, long before the curse of Covid masks, residents put up a sign beside a tree festooned with ‘traditional’ rags, baubles and plastic bags. The notice read: This is NOT a fairy tree! Take your litter home with you! Both the sign and the junk have long since been removed.
 
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WayWalker

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2013, 2016
An eyesore, a wildlife hazard. Nobody should follow this lead. It’s not good.

But if I were to play devil’s advocate…it does strike me that there’s never been a collective mourning ceremony over COVID-19. Assuming the best in people, perhaps they hang these masks as one such attempt? To say that they remember...?

On a small scale, I know that when we’ve suggested small rituals to mark “return to office,” with an idea of letting people process and share what lockdowns were like for them, the response was discomfort. The idea was nixed. People just wanted to be back to normal and obliterate that awful experience. The end result was moving ahead without much emotional processing.

I’ve no idea though. It's most likely just terrible litter, or people trying to make a silly statement divorced from real thought or emotion. But assuming the best, it might come from the desire to have some type of shared closure which never came to fruition? Best not to hang a mask there in any case.
Thank you. Great response.
 

Oliviao

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future
Was really shocked by this in March this year. Up until this point I had been pleasantly surprised by the lack of rubbish on the trail....it was so very disappointing and really blighted the entry to Compostela
 

Walton

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
The elastic loops are essentially traps, just like the plastic rings that come on many 6-packs of beer or soda in the US.

When you discard any face mask, please cut the straps even if you put your old face mask in the bin.

All rubbish ends up somewhere even the dump, and the straps have caused big issue for birds and other wildlife.

So do wildlife a favor by cutting the straps before binning.

Buen Camino

😇
 

TaraWalks

Peregrina without a skateboard
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016 & 2018, planning for Le Puy 2019/2020ish and for some shorter Caminos stacked
Ugh, that's so disappointing. Seeing discarded face masks on the ground/ on the beach/ in waterways has upset me since the start of the pandemic. I can't believe that people would make this a ritual.
 
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Bogong

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
First, March 2014
Hello from Santiago. I just walked the last stage of the Camino Portuguese today from Padron up to SdC…..quite wonderful. This is a classic Camino stage at 26kms and full of variety, culture, history and beautiful countryside. In my opinion, a way nicer final walk into the city than the Camino Frances.
However, I feel compelled to raise something on this platform which was so unexpected and so sad.
About 4kms out from the Cathedral, the trail passes through a beautiful area of natural woodland, so close to the city. At the start of this stretch, some idiots had decided to hang a few used face masks in the trees…..an awful sight. This was then copied hundreds of times in the next kilometre or so by ‘sheep’ wanting to emulate the stupid idea.
OK….the very first rule of pilgrimage is ‘leave no trace’…..even compared to the masses of tissue left behind on the Camino Frances, this was worse. Don’t people realize that this material can take years to break down and decompose.
As if we haven’t all had enough of the pandemic, for locals and pilgrims alike, why would we possibly want to be reminded of it here. In fact, there could be pilgrims walking the trail who have lost a loved one during the pandemic.
We should not forget that we from overseas are guests in this wonderful country and generally welcomed by the amazing Spanish people who look after us so well. If I lived here and witnessed this, I would be far less likely to feel positive about the pilgrim community.
Please, please…..leave only footsteps along the way!


They’re the new cigarette butts

Bogong
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2014, 2015, 2022
Tik Tok generation? Don't want to marginalize a group but people seem to love to follow trends, no matter if they are crazy or not. Tide Pods, anyone..... I hope, soon, we can start thinking for ourselves again and follow more rational thinking. Like it has been said for at least 70 years (that's when my parents taught me} to leave no trace behind!
 
F

Former member 105117

Guest
Several years ago, my wife and I had the blessing of being able to live on the US Virgin Island of St. Croix... America's Paradise in the Caribbean. One day, a road crew came along the road that led to our house, slashing the over-growth on the shoulder. The slasher exposed and spread the trash that had been thrown into the high weeds. After several days of seeing the plastic, cans, bottles and other assorted garbage blighting our bit of 'paradise', my Baby Duck and I took trash bags and, over the course of a few days, cleaned up the garbage.
As we worked, a few of the people in cars that passed smiled and waved, gave us a thumbs up. Most, however, simply stared and drove on. I remember one of our neighbors, stopping and asking why we were doing it. She said we should just call the government. It was "their job".
Over the course of months, the incident became the topic of conversation in the opinion section of the island paper. It also became the focus of the weekly talk-radio show. Not what my wife and I had done, but the trash, itself. Some gave opinions on why it was thrown in the weeds. Some offered opinions as to who had done the deed- locals verses tourists. It was debated about the difference between our island and the other islands. But, other than Baby Duck and I, no one offered anything other than words.
I've mentioned in a previous post that I plan to carry a roll of trash bags, when I walk my Camino. Now, I'll add a few pairs of rubber gloves. I won't clean ALL the route... but, I will clean some.
Leave it better than you found it.
Will I make a difference? Probably not. I'm just one guy walking one route. What I pick up today, I've no doubt, will be replaced tomorrow. But, I'll do what I can, as I can.
You won't see me. You'll probably not even be able to tell I did anything.
Just by looking, you'll never know I was there.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2022 El Salvador, Oct. 2022 Tui Portugués
About 4kms out from the Cathedral, the trail passes through a beautiful area of natural woodland, so close to the city. At the start of this stretch, some idiots had decided to hang a few used face masks in the trees…..an awful sight. This was then copied hundreds of times in the next kilometre or so by ‘sheep’ wanting to emulate the stupid idea.
When walking by there in early November, I was truly horrified at the sight of these hanging masks in the trees. They seem to have proliferated compared to early November.
Is anyone on this forum aware of contacting locals to help remove them. Getting rid of them would prevent copycats?
 
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Siegfried

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021
Camino Portugues 2022
Hello from Santiago. I just walked the last stage of the Camino Portuguese today from Padron up to SdC…..quite wonderful. This is a classic Camino stage at 26kms and full of variety, culture, history and beautiful countryside. In my opinion, a way nicer final walk into the city than the Camino Frances.
However, I feel compelled to raise something on this platform which was so unexpected and so sad.
About 4kms out from the Cathedral, the trail passes through a beautiful area of natural woodland, so close to the city. At the start of this stretch, some idiots had decided to hang a few used face masks in the trees…..an awful sight. This was then copied hundreds of times in the next kilometre or so by ‘sheep’ wanting to emulate the stupid idea.
OK….the very first rule of pilgrimage is ‘leave no trace’…..even compared to the masses of tissue left behind on the Camino Frances, this was worse. Don’t people realize that this material can take years to break down and decompose.
As if we haven’t all had enough of the pandemic, for locals and pilgrims alike, why would we possibly want to be reminded of it here. In fact, there could be pilgrims walking the trail who have lost a loved one during the pandemic.
We should not forget that we from overseas are guests in this wonderful country and generally welcomed by the amazing Spanish people who look after us so well. If I lived here and witnessed this, I would be far less likely to feel positive about the pilgrim community.
Please, please…..leave only footsteps along the way!
Acknowledge your advice.
Try forgiveness.
 
F

Former member 105117

Guest
An eyesore, a wildlife hazard. Nobody should follow this lead. It’s not good.

But if I were to play devil’s advocate…it does strike me that there’s never been a collective mourning ceremony over COVID-19. Assuming the best in people, perhaps they hang these masks as one such attempt? To say that they remember...?

On a small scale, I know that when we’ve suggested small rituals to mark “return to office,” with an idea of letting people process and share what lockdowns were like for them, the response was discomfort. The idea was nixed. People just wanted to be back to normal and obliterate that awful experience. The end result was moving ahead without much emotional processing.

I’ve no idea though. It's most likely just terrible litter, or people trying to make a silly statement divorced from real thought or emotion. But assuming the best, it might come from the desire to have some type of shared closure which never came to fruition? Best not to hang a mask there in any case.
Any attempt to try and rationalize or romanticize this is ridiculous. You can't glean anything positive from this or spin it as some grand gesture.
To borrow from an old saying I once heard: When a dog urinates on a wall, it's not making art... it's just being a dog. My apologies to the dogs...they can't help themselves.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2007
I assure you that I did not intend to romanticize or defend a truly jarring sight or maladaptive practice. It is disturbing, whatever its possible meaning or lack thereof, whether it stems from unassimilated grief or not. I fully concur that it should be discouraged.
 
F

Former member 105117

Guest
I assure you that I did not intend to romanticize or defend a truly jarring sight or maladaptive practice. It is disturbing, whatever its possible meaning or lack thereof, whether it stems from unassimilated grief or not. I fully concur that it should be discouraged.
I never meant to imply that YOU were endorsing the behavior and apologize if it seemed that way...
 

Trekker One

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
C. F.2014,15,16 &19 Portuguese '17, Primitivo '18
I have always been saddened to see the amount of garbage and graffiti on my various Camino's. Leaving face masks strewn about is just the latest outrage.
But, the Camino is open to all.
I have always thought those that partake in graffiti and are too lazy to pack out their garbage to the nearest town are not really 'pilgrims' but just ordinary hikers. They are seemingly totally oblivious to the code or they simply put 'self gratification' as being most important thing. The fact they are being disrespectfull to Spain, the Camino and actual pilgrims, probably never crosses their minds.
Other than gaining some fitness and taking a few pictures they gain very little from the experience of a Camino. Hopefully these types are of the 'one and done' variety. We don't need them back.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.

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