“It’s when we start shitting out plastic bags that we will start to realize that we have got a problem with our environment.” Anthony T.Hincks
“What is that lady up to?” asked Kelly.
We had just pulled into a remote campsite somewhere on the Nullarbor Plain. I was inside Ripley rummaging around for ingredients to prepare for some sunset snacks. Kelly was outside setting up table and chairs when she saw this lady ‘sneaking’ around in the bushes just over yonder.
She was right between us and a blazing ochre sunset, so it took a few moments of squinting into the light to figure out what exactly she was up to.
She had one of those long claw picker-upper things and was using it to fill a plastic bag with disposable wipes and plastic bottle caps and coffee cups and other stuff that she was extracting from around the bases of the Quandong bushes, and in amongst the spikey tufts of Porcupine grasses.
Once her bag was full she walked back to her small green camper-van and stowed it inside.
A little later I walked over to say hello. Turns out she was a solo traveller who had been on the road for many years now. After hearing of her adventures for a while I asked about her claw. She told me that she always spent a few minutes picking up rubbish at every campsite she stayed at. It was part of her routine. And it usually only took a few minutes to fill a bag or two which she would then drop into the next rubbish bin she came across.
“Im just trying to take a little care of these wonderful places I get to stay at. I know it’s not much, but it’s something”, she told me. “Anyone can complain about all this trash people leave behind…but it doesn’t take much to improve the situation by one bag less.”
At the risk of ‘virtue signalling’ let me tell you that this encounter must have made a lasting impression because I have just purchased my very own claw picker-upper and intend to make rubbish relocation (particularly plastics) an essential part of our own free camping routine.
One of the satisfying things about owning a motorhome or other self-sufficient RV, is that you can pull up to a spot, spend a night or two and then depart without leaving a trace.
With on-board solar and waste-management and grey water holding tanks this is really not that difficult….so what is more of a challenge is to leave making less than no trace. Or perhaps a ‘traceless trace’…. leaving the environment (be it a beautiful remote location, or an urban backstreet) a little better than you found it.
Thank you mysterious gypsy solo traveller claw-lady. For quietly going about your routine, and for inspiring us to take up the activity ourselves.
Since meeting the gypsy-claw lady I have begun to notice several other people out walking in my local area who are also picking up a little rubbish as they go.
Turns out this is a thing.
If you are thinking of joining the claw clan, you can buy your very own picker-upper for just a few bucks. We got ours from our local chemist for $29.00 but you can probably get one cheaper with a little looking around online.
Of course we are really only moving the plastics from one part of the environment to relocate it to another. Reducing plastic usage in the first place is the key here.
But once used, better to keep it centralised in dedicated waste management areas than discarded irresponsibly all willy nilly tangling with ecosystems and food chains, and animals digestive tracts for the next thousand years.
It’s not much. But it’s something.