Hello, Picker Pals!
As somebody who loves litter-picking, I always enjoy the interaction with people going by. It’s like having a dog or a baby - people feel they should have a few words with you. You get lots of nice remarks. “Fair play!”, “Doing a great job there” or a simple “Thank you”. I usually reply that I am hopelessly addicted to litter-picking and couldn’t stop even if I wanted to. Or sometimes I tell people that I’m doing it to make up for past sins. I often ask them to join me or tell them that I’ll be there tomorrow.
You get the odd cross-potch comment, usually rather unfairly directed at teenagers. “Terrible aren't they” and “Unbelievable! What are they like?” As the golden rule of picking is to stay positive at all times, it’s important not to indulge these people because it gets very unpleasant fairly quickly and who wants to pick angry?
I get a fair few regular questions including “Did you find any money?” (About €20 in 5 years), “What’s the most interesting thing you have found?” (A message in a bottle all the way from Greenland) and a couple of years ago “Do you think you’re going to clean the whole world up like that?” (No, but I’ll clean up this bit). That last question got me thinking and wondering how it might be possible to maximise one’s impact as a litter-picker and that’s where the idea of Picker Pals came from.
It reminded me of Lewis Carroll’s famous oyster-picker pals.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
If this were only cleared away,'
They said, it would be grand!'
If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose,' the Walrus said,
That they could get it clear?'
I doubt it,' said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
But what if we got the tools for litter-picking into as many hands as possible? What if we systematised it in a global way and got those tools into every classroom in the world? What if we could motivate a whole upcoming generation of people to do better than this generation? What if we could make litter-picking a cool adventure that children were proud to take part in?
The rest, as they say, is history.