‘hands up’ and say I have occasionally dropped little bits – Steve’s confession

Have you ever been guilty of this whilst out and about on your adventures? It can often spoil the enjoyment of being out in the great outdoors. Steve Birkinshaw gives us his opinion on the matter of dropping litter and what we can do about it. Could you be a real hero too?

Dropping and Picking up Litter

What do you do when you see a piece of litter lying on the ground when out on a walk or run?

Up until five years ago I would get cross that someone had dropped it but do nothing about it. Then my daughter, who was three at the time, started picking up bits of rubbish, saying “naughty people” and giving the bits to me. Since then I have gradually become more obsessive about picking up litter.

My daughter, who was three at the time, started picking up bits of rubbish, saying “naughty people” and giving the bits to me

Now whenever I am out on a training run or walking with the family if I pass any litter I pick it up and put it in the rucksack or bum bag I have with me. Then I throw it in the rubbish bin or recycle it when I get home. I have to admit when I am in towns and cities the amount of rubbish can be so much that sometimes I do not bother, as I feel it would make no difference. I have also never picked up bags of dog poo that inconsiderate dog owners have left around, although if I put some disposable gloves into my rucksack it would not be too bad.
However, I have to put my ‘hands up’ and say I have occasionally dropped little bits. Doing races I have been searching in my pocket for food and empty wrappers have blown away in the wind.

In a race recently I got to the finish and a runner just behind me gave me an energy bar packet which I had dropped. I am glad they did, as it showed me that I need to be more careful, as on this occasion I did not even realise I had dropped it.

I know this has happened to many other people and although it is not good, we all make mistakes. However, I get really angry by people that deliberately drop rubbish. They are willing to reduce everyone else’s enjoyment of being outside because they are so selfish and thoughtless.

It is worth also pointing out that banana skins and orange peel are rubbish, as they take years to decompose in the mountains and that they should be taken back to the nearest rubbish bin.
In the summer I ran up Snowdon early in the morning. On the route up there were a couple of bits of litter that I picked up but in general there was not much around. But then I got to near the café and from there to the summit there was loads of rubbish.

Standing on the summit, instead of looking at the amazing view, all I could think about was all the rubbish poking out from between all the rocks. It completely spoiled a brilliant run.

A couple of years earlier my children all climbed Scafell Pike for the first time. It was on a Sunday in the middle of summer and there had been loads of three-peakers out overnight. The amount of litter dropped all the way up to the summit was really depressing – every 20m or so there was another dropped wrapper or banana skin.

I picked up as much as would easily fit in the pockets of my rucksack but it hardly seemed to change the amount around. It was brilliant the children all made it to the summit and it was a great day, again spoiled by rubbish.
But I am going to finish this blog on a positive note. There are a number of groups of volunteers (such as https://www.facebook.com/Real3Peaks/) and individuals who sometimes go out and spend the whole day or days collecting rubbish. It is not a pleasant job collecting other peoples rubbish but they do it for the satisfaction of making the countryside a better and more enjoyable place for everyone. They are the exact opposite of the thoughtless people who deliberately drop rubbish.
They are all real heroes. Thank you so much for doing it.