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Single Use Plastics

Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2015)
Portuguese (2018)
#1
Hi. I’d like to make a comment about the use and disposal of single use plastics on the CF. I was horrified beyond words about a) waste in general, particularly toilet paper and b) single use plastic bags and littering.

People, you can live life and, yes, even walk a Camino de Santiago without using single use plastic bags. They are choking our oceans and are a hazardous landfill item.

The noise factor alone in dormitories is one reason to ban them - let alone the environmental damage they cause.

The littering was so bad I felt uneasy about walking past it for 35 days. Day after day after day. It is a blight on pilgrims and utterly disrespectful to the good old cherubs of Spain.

I was thrilled to finish the CF. Mainly as to not have to endure walking past one more single use plastic bag disposed of on the ground.

Take your own cloth shopping bag for a start. Toilet paper can also be discarded of in the next town.

Rant over I need a wine.

Cheers

Shaun, CF 2016, Australia.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2015)
Portuguese (2018)
#3
Not really - single use plastics should not be placed in general rubbish bins. They can be recycled with other plastics.

If placed in general trash they end up in landfill.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#4
They can be recycled with other plastics.
They are not recyclable where I live, and should go out with the garbage. We do sort into blue and green bins for appropriate recyclables and "green" composting disposal. The central sorting facility separates paper, plastic, metal, and glass from the blue bin. Recycling techniques vary between countries and even political subdivisions. My friends in New Jersey have four different resorting bins plus garbage (as I recall). They need a spacious laundry room for the sorting containers!

Plastic bags do go into the plastic recycling bin (yellow) in Spain. Garbage in the general trash bins must be in a plastic bag, so there is a small contradiction in the rules. When discarding the trash that you pick up, you can sort it into recycling categories where there are separate bins, but those collection points are less frequent. My personal opinion is that picking up litter has preference to recycling when I have to choose between the two.:)

 

LGLG

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP - Finisterre (2005) ; LePuy - Muxia (2007) ; Porto - SC. (2009) planning Lourdes- SC (2018)
#5
I agree. BRing and use re-usable bags, refillable bottles and only leave footprints on the path. Being mindful is not that hard to do. Plastic bottles take 70 to 450 years to decompose, plastic bags 500 to 1000 years, a cigarette bud 1 to 12 years, a can 50 years... But I'm speaking to the converted, no doubt. So how can we reach those less thoughtful?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#6
I can't help thinking that no matter what happens after being put in the bin collecting detritus along the way is preferable to just leaving it where it is.

I just made a habit of picking up one thing every day and disposing of it as best I could. Perhaps just a token gesture but it made me feel better and was virtually zero effort.

Must say the 5p+ charge for plastic bags in the UK now has massively increased people's awareness of what a menace these bags are.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2015)
Portuguese (2018)
#7
I agree. BRing and use re-usable bags, refillable bottles and only leave footprints on the path. Being mindful is not that hard to do. Plastic bottles take 70 to 450 years to decompose, plastic bags 500 to 1000 years, a cigarette bud 1 to 12 years, a can 50 years... But I'm speaking to the converted, no doubt. So how can we reach those less thoughtful?

So, so, so hard. Environmental concerns rate rather low on most peoples radar, the Camino no exception. Honestly the rubbish drove me mad on CF. It tainted my experience somewhat ( although heading off on Camino Portuguese in 2 weeks time)...

It would be preferable if some alburgue owners took a hard line on plastic bags.

The War on Waste is a wonderful Australian documentary series - have a look if you can.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2015)
Portuguese (2018)
#8
I can't help thinking that no matter what happens after being put in the bin collecting detritus along the way is preferable to just leaving it where it is.

I just made a habit of picking up one thing every day and disposing of it as best I could. Perhaps just a token gesture but it made me feel better and was virtually zero effort.

Must say the 5p+ charge for plastic bags in the UK now has massively increased people's awareness of what a menace these bags are.

The 5p charge is an excellent policy - kudos
 
Camino(s) past & future
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#9
Must say the 5p+ charge for plastic bags in the UK now has massively increased people's awareness of what a menace these bags are.
Spain seems to be a little bit behind developments, and the UK, of course, will soon no longer be subject to our laws :cool:. Where I live, free plastic bags have already been outlawed, apart from these very flimsy things you can use mainly for fruit in supermarkets and which, incidentally, don't make much noise. Here's something about the current situation in Spain and elsewhere:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.es/obliged-to-charge-for-plastic-bags-from-july-1-2018/

UK silent on EU origins of plastic bags law
 
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Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (Planning)
#10
although heading off on Camino Portuguese in 2 weeks time
Much cleaner, as per last year. I was not there in high season, but in April I saw many pilgrims carrying their trash until the next city/bin. Hope you enjoy it, fellow Aussie. The food is amazing!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
#11
I keep the small sandwich bags that we occasionally use at home and carry these with me to France or Spain. Once there, I use them to pick up and carry litter to the next garbage can (trash bin). Honestly, the amount of tissues, orange peels, and other litter on the CF and on the Puy route in France disgusts and astonishes me. "Astonishes" me because I cannot believe that a few of the people I converse with as I walk are the perpetrators of this littering.

Leave no trace.

Tom
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2015)
Portuguese (2018)
#12
I keep the small sandwich bags that we occasionally use at home and carry these with me to France or Spain. Once there, I use them to pick up and carry litter to the next garbage can (trash bin). Honestly, the amount of tissues, orange peels, and other litter on the CF and on the Puy route in France disgusts and astonishes me. "Astonishes" me because I cannot believe that a few of the people I converse with as I walk are the perpetrators of this littering.

Leave no trace.

Tom
It is just extraordinary. What can we do? I was shocked and appalled on the CF.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Burgos 2012, Burgos-Muxia 2013, Chemin de la Liberte 2014, Camino Ingles 2016, Rabanal 2017
#13
I agree: the amount of litter along the Caminos is disgraceful, even ungodly. Elsewhere I tried to start a campaign to end the use of all plastic, especially throw-away plastic bottles https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...d-of-plastic-on-the-camino.54207/#post-605888
Surely, whatever our motivation is for taking a Camino, we should try to leave it and the world a better - not a dirtier - place and clean, for all to enjoy.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2015)
Portuguese (2018)
#14
I agree: the amount of litter along the Caminos is disgraceful, even ungodly. Elsewhere I tried to start a campaign to end the use of all plastic, especially throw-away plastic bottles https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...d-of-plastic-on-the-camino.54207/#post-605888
Surely, whatever our motivation is for taking a Camino, we should try to leave it and the world a better - not a dirtier - place and clean, for all to enjoy.


Love your work! I didn’t even mention single use plastic straws - it’s a nightmare.

Those people that drink the global brand of cola, always with a single use plastic straw..... unforgivable.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2015)
Portuguese (2018)
#15
Well, people could not bring single use plastic bags. And not litter. Ever.

It’s quite simple.

I’m not to offer solutions.
 
Camino(s) past & future
----
#16
We, too, occasionally pick up litter along the Camino Frances but not every day - it's soul destroying. I must admit that we just put our haul in the next available public waste bin. It's usually plastic bottles, plastic wrappings and shoes. I'm not certain how to find public waste bins that allow sorting in Spanish towns?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2015)
Portuguese (2018)
#17
We, too, occasionally pick up litter on the Camino Frances but not every day - it's soul destroying. I must admit that we just put our haul in the next available public waste bin. It's usually plastic bottles, plastic wrappings and shoes. I'm not certain how to find public waste bins that allow sorting in Spanish towns?

It’s such a challenge - thank you for doing your part. The amount of litter was mind blowing.

What a pity.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#18
Two weeks ago I spent six days on trails in the backcountry of Banff National Park and saw no garbage during that time, except for what I stuffed in my own plastic bag to carry out. Wooden outhouses were available at all campsites and I saw no toilet paper on the trail. It was a relief to be able to breathe free, without the constant nagging annoyance of garbage and used toilet paper everywhere. Next week, I shall be going even further backcountry: no outhouses or campsites exist further than about two days walk from the road. I am prepared to bury my own bodily waste, and do not expect to see anyone else's.
The camino is obviously part of a different culture: a country uninterested in avoiding public toilet waste by providing facilities and with large numbers of visitors who do not seem to be responsible for their own waste. Yes, it is depressing. Do what you can and try to keep your spirits up.
On my first camino, I did very little public waste collection, but one site shocked me to the point that I had to act. A memorial had been set up on a scenic hillside to a pilgrim who died on camino. There was a bench to rest on and enjoy the scenery, but with litter all around where pilgrims had left the detritus from the lunches which they enjoyed sitting on the bench. I started to pick it up, and was soon joined in the effort by two young Korean pilgrims. They seemed to understand that it was wrong to leave garbage on a memorial site. When we finished, they insisted on taking the full bag of waste with them.
I cannot find a moral to this story. Perhaps just to be responsible for your own litter and do what you feel you must about other people's.
 

GFinch

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September (2018)
#19
The Camino frances is walked by pilgrims from all over the world. It is not the responsibility of the local authorities to ensure that people use bins. It is up to each and everyone one of us to clean up after ourselves and leave the places we visit as we found them, if not cleaner than before we visited. A suggestion: maybe advise albergues that you visit to put up a sign in their communal areas and the rooms to advise pilgrims to carry their waste with them and to use the bins.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#20
It is not the responsibility of the local authorities to ensure that people use bins
But it is their responsibility to provide trash receptacles and empty them regularly. The local governments get considerable revenue from Pilgrims, and some of it should be provide the resources to prevent litter and latrines. Their responsibility should not be limited to local residents. As to ensuring their use, I agree. Government cannot do that!:)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Northern Way (2017)
#21
Not really - single use plastics should not be placed in general rubbish bins. They can be recycled with other plastics.

If placed in general trash they end up in landfill.
Can they be recycled in Spain? In my home town bags can only be recycled in a limited number of places or they contaminate other recyclables.
 
Camino(s) past & future
----
#22
There is a long article about a campaign to recycle, avoid waste in the first place, clean up and generally fight against trash on the Camino and about becoming an ecoperegrino . This is an initiative by mainly Castilla y Leon through which a huge part of the Camino Frances runs. See link below.

There is also a Camino de Reciclaje website. See link below.

Both websites are in Spanish only, so won't reach pilgrims from outside Spain who make up half of the nomadic pilgrim population. Perhaps someone with time on their hands or enough passion for the issue can write a summary in English? Could be also interesting for volunteer hospitaleros.

https://www.ecoembes.com/es/ciudada...omentan-el-reciclaje-en-el-camino-de-santiago

https://www.ecoembes.com/proyectos-destacados/camino-del-reciclaje/
 

TatiLie

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning for first Camino (2019)
#23
I'm planning to carry a little roll of 5L compostable bags with me and do some picking up in the way with the help of the pole (no way I'm touching other people's used TP!). My only concern is that 5L bags won't be large enough for a day of collections!
 

LGLG

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP - Finisterre (2005) ; LePuy - Muxia (2007) ; Porto - SC. (2009) planning Lourdes- SC (2018)
#24
There is a long article about a campaign to recycle, avoid waste in the first place, clean up and generally fight against trash on the Camino and about becoming an ecoperegrino . This is an initiative by mainly Castilla y Leon through which a huge part of the Camino Frances runs. See link below.

There is also a Camino de Reciclaje website. See link below.

Both websites are in Spanish only, so won't reach pilgrims from outside Spain who make up half of the nomadic pilgrim population. Perhaps someone with time on their hands or enough passion for the issue can write a summary in English? Could be also interesting for volunteer hospitaleros.

https://www.ecoembes.com/es/ciudada...omentan-el-reciclaje-en-el-camino-de-santiago

https://www.ecoembes.com/proyectos-destacados/camino-del-reciclaje/
Great start - I understood most, but not all. The article seems to focus a lot on Eco-Albergues practices: recycling, saving water and electricity. Albergues can (dare I say: must?) play a major role in environmental, Eco-friendly education -
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#25
It is just extraordinary. What can we do? I was shocked and appalled on the CF.
We visitors can't fix Spain. That's impossible. But if when we walk we all picked up some trash every day it would begin to take care of the problem. There's a whole thread running right now about that:
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/collecting-garbage-a-duty-for-conscious-pilgrims

About the recycling and plastics...I agree entirely but it's a longer story and bigger (global) issue than we pilgrims can resolve. Honestly, if you go to anywhere in Asia or Africa, you'll see plastic trash all over the place, and what's in Spain is nothing by comparison.
But there is individual action. So we can choose not to add to the burden of what plastic is already there, and if what others leave behind bugs us, we can pick it up. But getting upset at other people's failings is a recipe for endless suffering. So change what you can, and when you can't do anything, find a way to let it go.
I'm planning to carry a little roll of 5L compostable bags with me and do some picking up in the way with the help of the pole (no way I'm touching other people's used TP!). My only concern is that 5L bags won't be large enough for a day of collections!
They won't be, if you're on the Frances. You can fill a bag, and leave it in the bin in the next town - then start another one.
 

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