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Litter on the Camino

Camino(s) past & future
2013 CF
2014 Le Puy-St Jean. 2014&16 Volunteer St JP
2016 Portuguese
2017 Porto-Santiago
2018
#1
While walking out of Leon recently we saw a group of about a dozen volunteers from the local Camino Association collecting trash, mainly litter than was not biodegradable. They focused on the section from San Miguel to Villladangos Del Paramo and had collected over a dozen large garbage bags by mid morning.
They did comment as we passed at how uncaring some pilgrims seem to be.
We had no way of telling if this was just discarded in 2018 or had accumulated over a number of years.
Although there are few bins for litter except in the last 80-90 km it would help if there were more bins provided and signs asking people to take their trash with them.
You would think it is unnecessary to ask people to take their trash with them.
Perhaps it requires more publicity.
Any suggestions?
Buen Camino
Happymark
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013 CF
2014 Le Puy-St Jean. 2014&16 Volunteer St JP
2016 Portuguese
2017 Porto-Santiago
2018
#3
I've always carried my rubbish with me to the next town, even bypassing worse than useless tiny bins stuffed full and overflowing.
It ain't rocket science...
I fully agree; the issue is how to get the message out to people that don't do what you do??
thanks
Happymark
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#4
I fully agree; the issue is how to get the message out to people that don't do what you do??
Good question, Mark, and one that's been asked over and over.
There will always be idiots, and they won't listen to what we say in this echo chamber.

So....What to do? A few ideas:
  • Set an example.
  • If you see someone has dropped trash along the way - return it to them. (Asking politely if they have dropped it, as though you were returning something of value.;):cool: )
  • Pick up trash yourself.
  • Join the Ditch Pigs - or contribute to what they do every year.
Yes...be irritated by this...and then do something. We can complain endlessly, but if everyone here were to pick up at least one bag of trash a day while walking...we would make a difference.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#5
Good question, Mark, and one that's been asked over and over.
There will always be idiots, and they won't listen to what we say in this echo chamber.

So....What to do? A few ideas:
  • Set an example.
  • If you see someone has dropped trash along the way - return it to them. (Asking politely if they have dropped it, as though you were returning something of value.;):cool: )
  • Pick up trash yourself.
  • Join the Ditch Pigs - or contribute to what they do every year.
Yes...be irritated by this...and then do something. We can complain endlessly, but if everyone here were to pick up at least one bag of trash a day while walking...we would make a difference.
@VNwalking
I agree with this and shall certainly continue to pick up litter. But I wonder why it is that there is little on some routes. There was almost none on the Via de la Plata/Sanabres.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#6
But I wonder why it is that there is little on some routes. There was almost none on the Via de la Plata/Sanabres.
Hmm...good question @Albertagirl.
Maybe it's sheer numbers? Or rather, the lack of them.
The absence of the 'pilgrims' who do the most littering may also be a factor (just guessing here, as I have no idea who those people might be).
 

Cayou

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 Villafranca to Santiago
2016 St Jean to Los Arcos
2018 24-Sept Leon to Finnisterre
#8
I'm no Saint - not even close, but twice my wife & I have carried bags and collected litter over a 5km section. That's all it took to fill them. This world has extremes, and sometimes it's best to at least try to level the field.
 

m108

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2016
#9
Some of us have been raised that we do not leave trash , some do not. The society is made in such a way that those who do not have this as an internal value - prescribe the rules. Maybe a little move would be achieved if the attachment to each credential is a friendly list (do not leave trash, do not write graffiti, do not steal fruit, ... be respectful to locals and others on the way ....perhaps in a witty style or as a comic drawings ). It really sounds ridiculous, but incomprehensibly large amounts of garbage prove that it is not for all self-evident. Even a "worse" reception would be a sign that the pilgrim agrees with these rules. I know it sounds awful, but that's it: for those who do not have internal rules - tell them what they are. Of course, this does not mean that everyone will follow them immediately.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2013 CF
2014 Le Puy-St Jean. 2014&16 Volunteer St JP
2016 Portuguese
2017 Porto-Santiago
2018
#10
Some of us have been raised that we do not leave trash , some do not. The society is made in such a way that those who do not have this as an internal value - prescribe the rules. Maybe a little move would be achieved if the attachment to each credential is a friendly list (do not leave trash, do not write graffiti, do not steal fruit, ... be respectful of locals and others on the way ....perhaps in a witty style or as a comic drawings ). It really sounds ridiculous, but incomprehensibly large amounts of garbage prove that it is not for all self-evident. Even a "worse" reception would be a sign that the pilgrim agrees with these rules. I know it sounds awful, but that's it: for those who do not have internal rules - tell them what they are. Of course, this does not mean that everyone will follow them immediately.
Excellent suggestions to have something in the credentials.
I will contact Monique in St Jean where I have volunteered and ask her to raise it with The Association.
 

m108

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2016
#11
Excellent suggestions to have something in the credentials.
I will contact Monique in St Jean where I have volunteered and ask her to raise it with The Association.

It took some time for me to be horrified over the waste at Camino. I am a retired teacher, so it became clear to me over time that this is a matter of education.
It is likely that every one of us ever did something in his life, which he was later ashamed of - for lack of information.
There are bio-degradable bags made from plant starch. They are extremely lightweight and occupy very little space - everyone can have their own garbage bag. If they were prepared to attach them to the Credential in the SJPDP, I would buy 1000pcs, donate and send them to the SJPDP.
So, @happymarkos if you contact the office in the SJPDP, please ask if this would be feasible / appropriate
 

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Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#12
Perhaps, and as part of the educational effort, the Camino association that runs the office at SJPdP might offer small, light, rolls of the degradable dog poop bags at cost to departing pilgrims. A box or basket of them under the large rules sign explain what it means to pilgrims who ascribe to the concept, would work well, IMHO. They could use crowdsourcing to fund the initiative. I would donate...

Making the bags available and visible with a large sign with the rules on it would help sell bags. I suspect that if you give the person the bags and they relate it to the rules, they might actually use them.

Ideally, the bags would be custom produced and overprinted with the rules in several languages on both sides of the bag. I am thinking French, Spanish and English at least... Italian might be a good idea. Two on one side and two on the other....

Also, as the Pilgrim Office in SJPdP is the one place that virtually every departing pilgrim goes to to get a credential, last minute information on the pass, a shell, and the first stamp in their credencial, this is the IDEAL place to have the educational and marketing effort.

Hope this helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017
#14
I'm no Saint - not even close, but twice my wife & I have carried bags and collected litter over a 5km section. That's all it took to fill them. This world has extremes, and sometimes it's best to at least try to level the field.
My son and I picked up trash everyday for about a half hour while walking the camino. We are scouts and needed to incorporate a service project into our "50 Mile Hike", in order to get our "50 Mile Award". Our service project became habit, and then it was simply a regular chore to do each morning.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#15
I know it is a lot to expect, but I cannot help wondering if "sponsoring" a segment of the Camino to police trash, might be something worth exploring. Here in the US, it is common for local businesses to sponsor keeping a small segment of a highway free of litter. Employees of these businesses will turn out periodically (like a few times a year) to pick up trash.

I do not know if this fits culturally, but one does wonder if service organizations, businesses, schools, or Camino associations located in larger towns and cities might not take this up as a way to give back to the Camino. It IS their lifeblood, especially along the Camino Frances.

If the Camino becomes too "trashy" it might dissuade pilgrims in future. This, in turn, affects these businesses and their continued viability.

As we approach 'peak pilgrim' and the coming Holy Year in 2021, this problem is going to exacerbate. now is a good time to try to get some initiative up and running.

But, and alas, I am stuck living in Florida... Were I there, I would certainly be better situated to organize something, or to at least raise the issue with groups benefiting from the Camino.

Sigh...:rolleyes:
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Invierno (2019)
Camino Frances (2021)
#18
While walking out of Leon recently we saw a group of about a dozen volunteers from the local Camino Association collecting trash, mainly litter than was not biodegradable. They focused on the section from San Miguel to Villladangos Del Paramo and had collected over a dozen large garbage bags by mid morning.
They did comment as we passed at how uncaring some pilgrims seem to be.
We had no way of telling if this was just discarded in 2018 or had accumulated over a number of years.
Although there are few bins for litter except in the last 80-90 km it would help if there were more bins provided and signs asking people to take their trash with them.
You would think it is unnecessary to ask people to take their trash with them.
Perhaps it requires more publicity.
Any suggestions?
Buen Camino
Happymark
Hm I think more bins for litter would be good. But don’t only blame the pilgrims, it could also be locals. Just look at the rest of the world and see how people throw waste all over 😢😢
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
#19
Hm I think more bins for litter would be good. But don’t only blame the pilgrims, it could also be locals. Just look at the rest of the world and see how people throw waste all over 😢😢
But perhaps a few enviro-conscious pilgrims could set the example for others, including non-pilgrims, to follow.

Also, a bin of those biodegradable trash bags that @m108 described could be placed in each albergue -- especially if it could be done at no cost to the hospitaleros. This might be a project that the "Camino Angels" organization could sponsor, and we all could donate Euro or two to cover the cost of the bags. Of course such a project would require strategically-placed rubbish bins to accept the filled bags -- that's an infrastructure question that can only be answered by the local governmental bodies.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2018)
#20
I just finished my first Camino Frances in October. It seems that Spain does a lot of recycling and takes it very seriously. Along the way several places handed out these bright yellow bags... I used mine to put my shoes in. But many used them for shopping or trash. We were taught to clean up after yourself and if you saw trash on the ground pick it up. I filled a few bags along the way. Maybe modeling for those who grew up differently would help... pack it in, pack it out.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#21
Maybe in order to receive a stamp from somewhere you have to turn in some trash. Either your own or some you picked up.
There are thousands of places to get stamps. While they support a clean Camino, I doubt that they would want the responsibility of demanding a piece of trash before giving stamp!

Ideas that generally want to coerce green behavior are not likely to get support. A flier suggesting that Pilgrims clean up as they walk? I hope there is a recycle bin nearby for those fliers so they don't land on the ground...;)
 

Trude

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais 2013 Finnestere, Muxia 2013, 2017
Norte 2014, Francais, 2015, 2016, VDLP 2017
#22
Hm I think more bins for litter would be good. But don’t only blame the pilgrims, it could also be locals. Just look at the rest of the world and see how people throw waste all over 😢😢
Especially in that section it may not be pilgrims. I know I would never litter anywhere in the world, I was horrified in Cuba when a public bus I was on, pulled over stopped, opened the door and threw a plastic bottle and a pizza box out the door and then carried on as if it was normal. Maybe to him and others it is.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#23
Maybe to him and others it is
Some of us live in a sanitized cultural bubble where littering is considered wrong. The rest of the world (and vastly more people) does not.

A friend of mine was walking in a park in Singapore with a third friend, who was from Myanmar (where there is no such thing as 'littering;' it's just what people do.). As they were waking along, the Burmese friend casually dropped a wrapper on the ground as he ate his snack...it's normal, right? Hee hee. Of course NOT in Singapore. Ever. :eek: There was quite a scramble to remove the evidence of the crime PDQ before he got arrested.:cool:

There are vastly more places that are not like Singapore than are.
People from most places are probably shocked at us and wonder what all the fuss is about.;)
 

Oravasaari

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
#24
On the CF the very high volume of walkers also means that quite a lot of accidental "spillages" happen - lost water bottles, tissues and food wrappers from side pockets (I almost always find a 20€ note on the path on my caminos too!). It is bound to happen when people are foraging through side pockets on the move etc. I've never seen anyone deliberately throw/drop litter/rubbish/trash.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#26
lost water bottles, tissues and food wrappers from side pockets
I think we can put blame directly on cyclists for the discarded large water bottles! I have never seen a walker with bottles of that size. Maybe they "bounce" off the bicycles! ;)
 

Trude

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais 2013 Finnestere, Muxia 2013, 2017
Norte 2014, Francais, 2015, 2016, VDLP 2017
#27
I don't think I would be likely to see anyone dropping their toilet tissue.
One or two good rains and the toilet tissue is disintegrated, unfortunately we are humans and have to go. It’s also one of the best ways of knowing you are not lost.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#28
One or two good rains and the toilet tissue is disintegrated, unfortunately we are humans and have to go. It’s also one of the best ways of knowing you are not lost.
Nope. Those tissues are still there WEEKS later, tattered and uglier than ever. You can "go" without leaving a bright white flag behind you.
I've been picking up litter on the camino for 12 years now. Trends emerge. It used to be cigarette packets and soda cans. Then it became plastic bottles. Now, in the last 4 or 5 years, it's tissues by the thousand, left by people who tell themselves it's OK, the rain will wash it all away.
Nope.
Don't leave ANYTHING behind you that doesn't belong in nature.
And not just on the Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#29
One or two good rains and the toilet tissue is disintegrated, unfortunately we are humans and have to go.
I invite you to try this in a private corner of your back yard and see just how long it takes.;)
After that you might be less likely to leave it on the Camino for countless others to enjoy.
Pack it out in a zip-lock bag and dispose of it where trash should go - in the bin at the edge of the next village.
 

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