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litter on the camino

hey all, im in leon, i have been walking now for 23 days, and i cant believe, how much littr i see the pilgrims leave!!! Pleast, walk lightly on this earth, and especially on the camino. i luv my sisters, but i gots to say, QUIT LEAVING YOUR TOILET PAPER ON THE GROUND, ESPECIALLY IN ALL THE SHADY i know its easier for me, as a male, but i know from my hippie sisters back home in California, that you could, find many other ways to keep clean and dry, and if you use the toilet paper, take the time to put them in a bag of some sorts, and dumb when you can, i see this example more than others, i cant believe all the water bottles i see tossed also...not good, for the earth, not good for the Camino. As for the Camino, beautiful, the weather has been soooo wonderful, the moon was alive and shiney even at 930am 2 days ago....with a beautiful rainbow around the moon the next morning........loving the camino, but lets keep it clean. peace
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It is sad to hear there is so much litter...two years ago when I made the walk I didn't actually see very much (maybe it was the time of year I was walking?), and I didn't see any toilet paper.

The few times I saw pilgrims throw trash on the ground I confronted them and asked them to pick it up. I can't believe how some people have so little respect for the trail (and world) that they will litter!


Active Member
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2002 solo and 2013 with wife and toddler
I was also disheartened to see so much litter on the Camino - I mostly saw plastic water bottles and other trash from trailside lunches...often times, there would be a trash can within site of the litter?!


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I walked last April and May and I was amazed at how clean and pristine everything was. I saw very little litter certainly nothing like the pigs in my own community throw from their car windows without a thought for nature or the environment. Maybe I was just lucky walking early in the season and it gets worse as the year goes on. :?:
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I think that is true, that it gets worse as the season goes by.
By September/October when we walked two years ago, it was horrible in some places.
What was the worst was the toilet paper.
Hence my posting about women PLEASE taking a hankie to wash out each evening.
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Dale...sorry I missed you, we may have crossed paths...

...I did notice a lot of water bottles...especially within walking distance of a supermercado, bar or albergue where they probably picked it up. Initially, I picked up as many as possible, but found that the additional weight became a I got some large shopping size plastic bags...added the litter and then deposited the full bag either in a trash can or at a cross roads. But later on just doing for myself became the mission.

Can't do much about the trail flowers that appear here and there...but at least go well off the road where they may return to the soil.

Buen cleaner is greener Camino

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
"trail flowers"... I love it! Those are litter I don´t touch.

My own categorical statement: People who throw litter along the Camino are Swine. They are much worse than the goober who snores all night in the albergue, because the snorer is only temporary, and he doesn´t know any better. I only wish pilgrims were as enthusiastic about dissing litter-pigs as they are about people who snore.
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Interesting you'd say that. I had an urge to put up signs that said, "A Pig Passed By Here" to discourage further "trail flowers," but didn't. The problem with the paper besides being an ugly eyesore and unsanitary, is that it is not biodegradable, and it is filled with chemicals (like chlorine) that have no place in nature. It says a sad lot about those people who do such things and is very sad.

I do agree that the litterer is worse than the snorer, although it's painful to say so ::laughing:::.
The littere is also so absolutely disrespectful to the Camino, to Spain, to the local people who host us, and to fellow pilgrims... close to the bottom, if not the bottom, of the list, imo.

I often have thought when I walked the next time, I'd put a nail on the end of my walking stick, and carry a plastic bag to clean up some of those areas...


Active Member
Watch the gender bias there Rebekah. :D The worst snoring that I encountered was a french woman I thought she was going to hurt herself I joked later and said I think she was a member of the French Olympic Snoring team. Definitely a Gold medal contender. Like you Iagree the snorer can be forgiven as there isn't anything they can do about it, but I will never understand the people that are so lazy and inconsiderate that they can't carry there own trash out with them. :twisted:
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I haven't found the earplugs that silence snoring ... yet.

By the way, Rebecca, I saw a photo of you cleaning up a rest stop (on a blog) and I have a photo of what I believe to be the same rest stop BEFORE it was cleaned... incredible!


Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
OMG, Annie! You hit on my Pet Peeve -- those couple of picnic stops along the Nowhere Land between Carrion de los Condes and Calzadilla de la Cueza. We´re out there about four times a year, dealing with what you see there (often with help from people like KiwiNomad). Thanks for the photo. When people ask me why I´m so passionate on this issue (and how can I live here and deal with pilgs all the time and still really dislike some of them) I can show them this picture!


Deleted member 3000

Earplugs are about the wearer. Rather than curse the darkness, why not light a candle? Earplugs work to block snoring noise. Pilgrims who are asleep also cannot see the headlamps of early risers, a second benefit of earplugs! I always am amazed by simple solutions that are avoided. I await the "I don't like earplugs" comment.
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
falcon269 said:
Earplugs are about the wearer.

I agree. Tiptoeing around children create adults who cannot sleep through noise. I'm not cursing anyone ... only stating that snoring makes it very difficult to sleep, which is why the next camino, I plan on sleeping outdoors more

Rather than curse the darkness, why not light a candle? Earplugs work to block snoring noise.

Sorry, but not true. Most of the time, earplugs do NOT block snoring noise. They muffle it, but do not block it.

Pilgrims who are asleep also cannot see the headlamps of early risers, Again, not correct. I've been awakened many times by glaring headlamps in my eyes in the wee hours of the morning.


At some point, we may just have to agree to disagree! :D

I realize the snorers will continue to snore. And as I've said in a previous post, I even wake MYSELF up snoring! ::laughing:: So I"m not really seeking a solution. I have one already!
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Properly fit earplugs eliminate virtually every noise. I wore them flying a DC-3 for a decade, and I can attest to the fact that they work.

A headlamp in the eyes is rare, and it will not wake a REM sleeper. If you were awakened by light rather than noise, you already were waking up. You may not have been in the mood to get up, but you already were awake from noise or the time of day! Light alone is not a good alarm clock, witness the number of times you have slept past dawn when silence and tiredness have let you, or the afternoon siesta when the sun is high in the sky and the only shade is one's hat.

There can be a tendency to blame external forces for things that actually are internal. Persons sensitive to snorers regularly get a good nights sleep if they fall asleep before the snorer, particularly if they have used ear plugs to beat the snorer to sleep.

We all are different, so I am not suggesting anything more than using the available technology to make life easier. It is hard to have a good time living with 120 other people if everything has to be "just so." When I find it hard to change 120 others, I try to change myself instead.
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Gosh falcon, I just don't agree that this issue is a "one size fits all."

I'm pretty sure weary pilgrims will continue to complain about rustling bags, headlamps, and cellphone abusers as long as inconsiderate pilgrims continue to be inconsiderate. Pilgrims will also continue to talk about snoring as long as there are people snoring. ::shrug:: While I realize there isn't much a snorer can do, that doesn't make it any easier to sleep.

You are lucky to be such a sound sleeper!
Perhaps you have hearing loss?
Those DC-3s are mighty loud!
Or perhaps my fellow travelers were noisier than yours? :lol:

You state, "Persons sensitive to snorers regularly get a good nights sleep if they fall asleep before the snorer, particularly if they have used ear plugs to beat the snorer to sleep."

That is simply not true. According to one Mayo Clinic study:

People who sleep next to a snorer have more pain, higher levels of fatigue and sleepiness and may even be at higher risk for hearing loss, according to two recent studies. Complaints of snoring and apnea have risen sharply in recent years along with the general increase in obesity, a risk factor for sleep problems. Research shows:

People who sleep next to snorers may wake up as often during the night as people with documented sleep disorders.
One Mayo Clinic study found that spouses of snorers woke at least partially an average of 21 times an hour, nearly as often as the 27 times the snorers were awakened by their documented sleep problem.
Spouses of snorers and people with sleep apnea complain of excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue, which can affect relationships at both work and home.
Researchers at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, found that the bed partners of snorers all showed a significant amount of noise-induced hearing loss. In all four patients, who had slept next to a snorer for 15 to 39 years, the damage was limited to the one ear that was most exposed to the snoring.

Source: Tara Parker-Pope, "Dangers of Second-Hand Snoring: When Bedtime Is a Health Hazard," Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2003 ... 075441.htm

Another study states:

After monitoring 140 sleeping volunteers at their homes near Heathrow and other major airports, scientists at London’s Imperial College concluded that sounds louder than 35 decibels – including planes flying overhead, traffic passing outside, and yes, snoring – spiked blood pressure at a rate of 0.66 mm Hg for every five-decibel increase. To give you some perspective, 90 decibels – a level some snorers can surprisingly reach – can be compared to the volume of a jackhammer.

If there is an affordable lightweight pair of comfortable earplugs that "eliminates virtually every noise," and that is light enough to carry on the Camino, I don't know about them. Do you have a brand name? I would pay a lot for such gear!

Regarding light, If you want to test your theory, you might walk into a dark dorm at 2 am, turn on the bright lights and see how the people respond?! I do take a sleepmask, however, and that works really nicely.

I never said "everything needed to be just so."
I simply wish people would be considerate of their fellow pilgrims.
I realize people who snore cannot help it.
I don't expect them to do anything different.
But common courtesy with lights, noise, and littering is not expensive.
Anyone can offer it.

As I said before, we'll just have to agree to disagree. :D

Deleted member 3000

I take a few dozen disposable shooters ear plugs. After about three uses, I throw them away as they will have lost their resiliency. They weigh virtually nothing, and are great on the plane, too, to block out jet and children noises. Stretches of the C & O Canal Towpath, one of my favorite training grounds, are along a railroad. Campers with ear plugs get a good night rest; those without them are awakened every hour as a train goes by and blows its whistle for at-grade crossings.

The plugs are so successful that I have had to change my regular beeping alarm watch for a Casio "shake awake" vibrating alarm watch.

Spouses of snorers sleep just fine when they use ear plugs! The sleep tests were done on spouses that refused to use the technology available to them.

Your sleep mask joins the afternoon siesta as proof that light per se is unlikely to waken the soundly sleeping. It usually is the combination of rustling equipment, the awakening state of the sleeper, additional pilgrims joining the early risers, and eyes beginning to open. It is a rare event that someone is awakened from a sound sleep in the middle of the night exclusively by the headlamp of a pilgrim creeping to the bathroom. I have been that midnight bathroom-goer, and have regularly heard the undisturbed breathing pattern of the sleepers, even as the creaking bunk has roused sleepers.

Discussing snorers is as much a part of the Camino as sipping Rioja wines, thus the discussion threads of Pilgrimage-to-Santiago imitate the pilgrimage itself.
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I'll look for shooters' earplugs. Do I get them at a place like GI Joes or ???
Is there a brand name?
If you can only wear them 3 times, does that mean I need an entire bag ?
Fellow peregrinos,

I believe the Class of 2009 has found it's deep thinkers and we are all the more fortunate to count them among our number. With Falcon269 and Anniesantiago trading solid opinions and information..we will all be the better for it. Reminds me of the discussions I used to have with Br. David and Nathanial...gosh those were the good old days.

This is what makes this Forum the centerpiece of the Camino.

Buen deep thinking Camino

Oh, btw..Falcon269, I had more time in DC-3's than I'd care to admit. Fly on brother!
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Just a couple of questions on the litter issue. I'm an Aussie, and we have public education campaigns against littering e.g. Keep Australia Beautiful. I think it has worked well over the years, though there are still the louts & losers who don't see a problem with rubbishing their country. My questions are - do many other countries have similar campaigns? Is it just the Camino, or is the rest of Spain/Europe getting littered as well? Is it laziness re carrying litter, or culture/ignorance that littering is OK?

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
Great question, Lisa, and it´ll be good to get back to litter and off the earplugs! (yeah, I´m the one who brought it up...)

"Keep America Beautiful" went on for years, but somehow the roadsides are still forever littered with fast-food bags, beer cans, even great household bags full of garbage...this in a country with a multi-billion dollar waste disposal industry. The more self-absorbed people become, the less they care about the world around them. I think the condition of any country´s open places and highways are a direct reflection of the inner lives of many of its people. (and anytime I see a bag of trash tumbling out of a moving vehicle, I flash on that old revolutionary tune: "If I Had a Rocket Launcher!")

It´s even worse in Mexico, where there´s not a comprehensive waste disposal system.

I am still amazed here in Spain, where the concept of "viva yo" selfishness is practically celebrated as a national characteristic, the roadsides are almost completely litter-free. Towns still have public dumps on the outskirts, and an empty lot quickly collects piles of refuse, but the litter seems concentrated on particular patches. I think the relatively clean streets and roadsides are what makes the Camino litter so noticeable -- to both the pilgrims and the natives. Aside from the usual urban refuse and the fertilizer bags blowing off the tractor-backs, that trail litter is not "home-grown." The pilgrims dunnit.


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Just a general comment about litter in the towns - you are right that they are beautifully clean, but when I have left early in the morning, or when I have been trying to sleep on a rest day, I have seen or heard the road sweepers coming through sweeping AND hosing the roads down. Sometimes after a fiesta the litter has been unbelievable - but likewise, so has the clean up - rubbish everywhere, the cleaners come through, and all is immaculate.

Further to the Lisa's comment on Keep Australia beautiful I just toss in that here in South Australia we have container legislation which imposes a levy of 10cents on every soft drink bottle, water bottle and milk carton etc. Works a treat usually - and provides community groups with a great revenue resource in the recycling area! Cheers, Janet

Deleted member 3000

Back on topic???

Large blue barrels for trash have been placed regularly on the last 30 km or so of the Camino. I did not notice a material reduction of litter between the barrels, or even within five feet of a barrel!

It's the bicyclists.

They buy the 2 liter bottles and toss them aside when empty. Did you ever see a walker buy the big bottles for the trail? I carefully observed dozens of retail sales after developing my theory that litter comes from bicyclists, and those on foot always bought the small bottles because they fit better in pack pockets. The habit of immediate disposal by bicyclists carries to every other form of litter. How many pockets have you seen in cycling shorts? My walking shorts have about thirty pockets, more or less, with plenty of room for trash, including crushed water bottles. Bicyclist shorts? No pockets are larger than a key, and certainly they have no room for an empty water bottle.

A U.S. Senator, George Murphy (yes, Shirley Temple's song and dance man -- we will elect anyone to office in the U.S.), once theorized that Mexicans were best for picking strawberries because they were built closer to the ground. I theorize that walkers feel a greater connection to the Camino than bicyclists because they pass along it more slowly. You may theorize that these two theories are equally valid.
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If I was a Mexican AS WELL as a bicyclist I would be REALLY upset now! I am a short English woman so very much the same.

Whatever, may I defend the cyclists? Or anyway the ones like us, who would not dream of throwing a water bottle away because we need it (whatever size) to fill up for more.

I have pockets all over the place, in my jacket, in my bumbag, on the outside of my panniers, AND we also have front baskets (it's a middle aged british thing) where we store aforementioned refillable bottles, snacks, lunch, camera, maps and guide books, loo papaer (AND the plastic bags for wrapping used tissue in to throw away at the next bin)

And I walk a lot of the time especially when the hills are steep and feel very closely connected to the landscape I am travelling through.

If strawberries were in season and near the edge of the road I would very likely pick some - as I do grapes, apples, blackberries, chestnuts, walnuts, bilberry-type berries and other such wild delicacies.

Cyclists for ever!

Roundheads or cavaliers, mods or rockers, catholics or prods (or gnostics!!), snorers or earplug rejectors - lets all be friends!!!

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I´ve got nothing against people on bicycles or Mexicans or Brits or whomever, long as they put their trash where it belongs.


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