… is written by a member of Kirkby Environment Group (KMEG), recording her weekly litter-picking exploits along the A170 between Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside. Each week features a “Pick of the Week” litter item, which makes a starting point for some (mostly quizzical) reflections. Although appearing here for the first time, The Crap Fairy Blog will now be a regular feature. You can find the full archive (including past posts) on the KMEG website by clicking here. Now read on…
Pick of the Week #5: 18 Wet-Wipes (but no hay)
It was a bit of a tough call this week, deciding what to choose for my Pick of the Week – there was such a strong field of candidates. In the end I chose the wet-wipes – partly on the basis of novelty (because this week’s two Knotted Carrier-bags of Crap or Cravendale 2-litre milk bottle three-quarters full of wee, while impressive, amounted to revisiting old ground), and partly because the only other strong contender – the shitty nappy – interestingly caused me a level of affront which proved incompatible with creative endeavour. So, the wet-wipes it is, then, and here they are.
I was just settling down for a nice cathartic rant about wet-wipes – starting with denouncing manufacturers who inexplicably refuse to make biodegradable facial wipes even though they are perfectly well able to produce biodegradable ones for your other end – but I thought I’d have a look online first for stats on what happens to wet-wipes in the environment… and well, I never! Apparently, even the so-called biodegradable ones are a total menace in the sewage system – they don’t break down quickly enough and cause unspeakable blockages, particularly because they soak up fat which people put down sinks while it is warm and which then attaches to wet-wipes and sets. Eeeeuuuchchchhh!!! If you would like to see what this looks like (you strange person), click here for a link with a simply l-u-u-u-rvly picture. Good, isn’t it?
Anyway, I’ve picked up these 18 wet-wipes from a stretch of road maybe half a mile long – at which rate, there would be more than 1000 between Helmsley and Scarborough, along with 120 Knotted Carrier Bags Of Crap and 90 litres of human wee in assorted plastic bottles. So there we are – the wipes are now in my wheelie bin and will shortly be in a landfill site. Two cheers.
So what about the hay then? Well, I’ll explain in a moment, but first here are some pictures that I’ve taken along the verges of the A170 this week, to set the scene:
As you can see, walking along these verges at the moment means that your feet go brushing through red clover, cowslips and bird’s foot trefoil; campion and purple vetch twine among the plantain and lacy cow parsley; the banks are shaggy with white-flowering nettles and slender blades of grass waving tall silken heads, and it is just lovely. Like being inside a Surround-O-Vision I-Spy Book of British Wild Flowers, and with every growing thing just about as immaculately perfect and effulgent with juicy green as you could possibly imagine in your most favourite dreams.
And then the mower comes along and cuts the bits nearest the road. Now, as a Crap Fairy, I’m a bit ambivalent about this, because admittedly it makes it easier to walk and also easier to see litter; on the other hand, it also chops everything up so that instead of picking up, say, one big length of plastic sheeting you end up (as I did today) picking up about 3,947 little flimsy fragments, causing a nasty attack of Litter-Picker’s Thumb. Nevertheless, the hay that the mower leaves behind is sumptuous stuff, sweet-scented and wholesome with its floral interminglings, and it is this that gives me a rather odd little problem.
There I was, fossicking about with the litter-picker, finicking out little bits of the aforementioned chopped-up stuff and transferring it to the Crap Bag, when I suddenly noticed that I was taking great pains to get the bits of hay off first. WTF?? was naturally my first reaction. Fortunately, however, having done lots of personal development work, I was able to rise above this initial reflex and to simply maintain non-judgmental self-awareness in the fertile void (no, really), so that the explanation would be free to emerge into consciousness, which it very shortly did (so there), and it was this: I didn’t want to get the hay in because I felt sorry for it.
Bonkers? Well bear with me a moment here. Because there’s no doubt in my mind that that fragrant, wholesome stuff was incontrovertibly in its right place and absolutely fine just where it was. And on reflection, how right and proper that it should lie there on the cut stems whose roots were already busy drawing water out of the soil and soaking up sunshine and getting on with growing again – a process that the cut hay, relinquishing its nutrients to the rain and air, would only assist by its own demise. Why on earth would I want to pincer up clumps of it with my litter-picker and stuff it into a plastic sack full of shite before sending it to rot anaerobically in a landfill dump along with all our collective black bin liners, chicken bones and shitty nappies? And just to remind ourselves about what that looks like, it’s this:
Well, I wouldn’t. Poor hay. I even still feel guilty about the bits that still sneaked in.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough philosophical reflection for one day, I suddenly spotted a link with something that someone said to me the other day. ‘Don’t you get fed up with cleaning up other people’s mess?’ they said, and interestingly I don’t. At least, not quite in that way. I don’t mean that the calling of Crap Fairy isn’t fundamentally and healthily rooted in a deep, deep tilth of rage and resentment towards the morons who dump stuff, because of course it is. But here’s the thing: I think they behave like that because they believe that ‘the environment’ is something separate from themselves, something that exists ‘out there’ as an object to look at, to visit, to consume. A commodity, god-help-us. That’s why, as I said in my first post, to them ‘outside my car’ is the same as ‘outside my world’, and when the crap goes out of the window it ceases to exist.
But as for me: when I’ve filled my Crap Bags with stuff like what’s in that barrow, and I stand and look at the clean grass, good mud and sweet hay left behind, I feel better, like having just washed my own dirty hands. Why would I get fed up with keeping myself clean?
My next bulletin will be the week after next, as I am away on holiday next week. I won’t be taking any wet-wipes though.
Erica Rose aka TCF
[To go to the full archive of Crap Fairy Blogs on the Kirkbymoorside Environment Group website, click here]