Like most people I don’t like seeing litter, particularly when I’m out in the wild. It’s jarring to see discarded receptacles, packaging or broken objects that have been cast aside because someone simply no longer wanted them, and couldn’t be bothered disposing of them.
Seeing litter lessens the experience of wonder that usually comes from being in unspoiled nature. Even just one or two pieces of litter can make a pristine setting feel dirty, uncared for and decidedly un-pristine.
For me, and I would hope most people, the inclination is to pick up any litter, and to carry it out and dispose of it properly. However, I know from personal experience, that despite that inclination, I’ve often not gone the next step and picked it up. The excuse for this is chiefly that I’ve had nowhere to conveniently put it.
This all changed after I met Sydney-based litter picking enthusiast, Lisa Vitaris. I collaborated with Lisa to start a litter eradication programme with World Expeditions in the areas they send groups trekking in. She founded 10 Pieces a movement that encourages and challenges, people to pick up at least 10 pieces of litter when they’re out and about. Apart from it being such a simple idea, the genius of it is a small bit of planning. By taking a reusable nylon dry bag you have a portable bin and no more excuse not to pick up that offending trash. All it requires is a positive thought followed by action that you will do this. Once you have imposed the discipline of doing it a few times it becomes a habit, and by example that habit can be passed onto others.
Responsible disposal is the next step. If you’re on an extended 4WD trip or even walk, the best method for any plastic or paper product is to burn it in a hot fire. It’s a permanent solution, and if done properly, is one of the least impacting options. I’ll talk about how to have a low impact campfire next time.
Picking up a few pieces of litter may not initially seem like it will make any difference, but if others follow your lead it can make the world a cleaner and more beautiful place.