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S. Africans Spring Cleaning the Frances

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
This just in from the Confraternity of St. James of South Africa:

NEWS from the Confraternity of St. James of South Africa
March 2009
Contact: Margi Biggs: email margi (at) , phone +27 827701440.

CSJ South Africa heads international “Spring Clean” on the Camino Frances

Millions of pilgrims have walked the historic Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage across the north of Spain. In the past three years alone an estimated 273,000 people walked, biked, or rode horses along the 800-kilometer Way.

Unfortunately, thousands of them left a trail of trash behind them.
Water bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags, and sewage blot the margins of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Local groups stage clean-up days along some stretches, but other areas have accumulated tons of trash. Not all of it is pilgrim-generated: plenty of tires, building materials, and garbage are dumped along the camino by irresponsible neighbours.

In May 2007 Margi Biggs, a Cape Town native, walked from St Jean Pied du Port to Santiago. She says she enjoyed almost everything about the journey. “But what did disturb me was the amount of litter left by other Pilgrims over the years,” she said. “So I thought a Camino Spring Clean was in order.”

Work has already begun. Donors in South Africa have produced 10,000 small biodegradable litter pick-up bags for distribution to pilgrims, overprinted with a message in eight languages inviting them to fill the bag with the litter they find and finally drop it into the efficient Spanish garbage-collection system.

In late May and early June, South African hospitalero Gordon Bell will drive down the trail, distributing the materials to pilgrim hostels and albergues. Margi Biggs will walk the Way from Burgos to Leon 25 June to 5 July with a collection of friends, who will clean up the trail and spread the anti-litter message. Sponsors are being sought to design and print multi-lingual, anti-litter posters for display in pilgrim gathering places. Pilgrims planning to make the trip this year should be informed in advance -- perhaps when they receive pilgrim credentials -- that littering the trail is not part of the pilgrim experience, but cleaning up surely should be.

Confraternities and clubs from around the world are joining the effort, and your help is welcomed. Perhaps you can begin by translating this announcement and forwarding it to members of your Friends of the Camino group. Thank you in advance for your support!

Deleted member 3000

Excellent! Kudos to the South Africans.

With half the pilgrims from Spain, it would be nice to see Spain lead an on-going anti-litter campaign. I know they do a lot already, but one-time programs from South Africa cannot possibly be as successful as Spanish initiatives.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
The bags are quite small - no bigger than a plastic shopping bag - so easy to fill and discard in the very efficient Spanish garbage bin system.
I process all the credentials in South Africa and include a bag in the envelope.
Look out for them this year when you walk the camino frances.


  • CSJ of SA Litter Bag.JPG
    CSJ of SA Litter Bag.JPG
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Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
Nice job, Sil and all your compatriots.

Buen Camino,


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SDC (2009) Somport-Jaca, Burgos-SDC, Cee-Muxia (2012) Le Puy - Aumont-Aubrac (2014) SJPP-SDC (Oct 2015)
Sounds like a wonderful initiative. Well done South Africa.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Well done. Great idea. You have just inspired me to collect rubbish along the way when we do our third camino, the Madrid, in June.

Carole from Australia.

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Look for write-ups on the S. African confraternity and the trashed camino in the May issue of Peregrino magazine, coming soon to kioskos all over Spain!

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
The South Africa crew was here last weekend (May 24 and 25) midway through their litter-bag drop-off. Anyone out on the trail seen any of these green bags in use?



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