It is a snow day.  The buses are cancelled so the morning rush of getting to school has gone.  No snow though, so far just rain.

So I went for a walk around my usual block, but took a bin bag, I had time.

A block later, a bin bag full.

Am I virtue signalling here?  ‘Look how good I am that I picked litter in the rain?’

You know, it feels more like caring for an ailing mother.

My mum didn’t ail, one day here, the next gone, but I see friends tend and worry, visit and fix, do their best to support their parents as they fade into the next phase.  So it feels a bit like that with mother earth.  I litter pick sometimes (not always, because some days I need to walk to sort out my own shit and not other people’s), because it feels like that tending for a mother who could do with some support.

The joke of course, is not that she needs me, but that I need her.  I need her blocks, her woods, her rivers, her rain. I need to breathe, drink, see, feel, fresh, clear, healthy.

And as I picked, the ewes watched with their new-born lambs and I was glad they couldn’t reach and accidentally chew on soggy cardboard and fag packets.

And as I picked I saw path, after path, made by animals through the hedgerow, maybe badger, the ever rarer hedgehog, rabbit?   Spoor or smeuse, smout or squiggle, when we lose the art of looking, we lose the art of words.

And the litter tells me we don’t look. Litter tells me more than it knows.

Endless king-size MacDonalds cups and sagging boxes tell me there is a new one in town, 15 minutes away – new litter to add to the existing piles.  Litter which tells me – we were too busy to sit and eat, needed something cheap, don’t care too much about our bodies, needed a hit of fat and salt, the dopamine high of artificial rewards.

‘Presence of fast food outlets around children’s homes and schools from ages 7 to 14. We find that proximity to fast food outlets is associated with increased weight (body mass index, overweight, obese, body fat, weight), but only among those with maternal education below degree level. Within this sample, those with lower levels of emotional regulation are at heightened risk of weight gain’.

‘Among ninth graders, a fast food restaurant within 0.1 miles
of a school results in a 5.2 percent increase in obesity rates. Among
pregnant women, a fast-food restaurant within 0.5 miles of residence
results in a 1.6 percent increase in the probability of gaining over
20 kilos’

‘In a worldwide analysis we found a linear, very strong (R 2 = 0,95) correlation between overweight and number of McDonald restaurants.’’s_restaurants_and_the_prevalence_of_obesity

The beer bottles – glass, thrown in twos and threes, cans of Heineken, Strongbow, one unopened, waiting to be drunk. Drunk. And driving right? Because these bottles and cans are at the side of the road. The biggest cause of young adult males death in these parts isn’t gun or knife crime, it is driving unsafely around country roads. Is this the story of ‘I don’t care about me, I don’t care about you, I don’t have time to sit with friends with a pint and lean elbows on tables to put the world to rights?’  Or does it tell me, ‘I needed this after this shift, or going to that, that I’m filling a gap, numbing out on the way from someplace I don’t like, to another I can’t relax?’.

The Red Bull cans – countless – suppliers of false energy, when we are exhausted but push on, going over-drawn on our bodies’ resources and our health bank account.

‘Individuals usually develop symptoms of caffeine intoxication in doses equal to or above 200 mg. Symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, muscle twitching, restlessness, and periods of inexhaustibility’,restlessness%2C%20and%20periods%20of%20inexhaustibility.

‘Based on these results, we recommend that athletes and active persons should avoid the long-term consumption of the Red Bull ED and, particularly, its combination with alcohol.’

Then fizzy drink bottles, crisp packets, sweet wrappers, plastic microwave food trays, a face mask, and do you know, that Pringle boxes, unravel to silver and linger standing in the hedgerow?  What does this tell us about our nutrition, how we treat our own bodies, let alone our world?

Now I am no saint.  We have Pringles sitting on the side and son has maybe 12/15 a night and I occasionally have 3 or 4.  Yes we do buy MacDonalds and drive on our way back from visiting friends on the long road home.  Occasionally.  We take the litter home.

None of us is perfect, but when I litter picked, you know, it wasn’t so much how we destroy nature that I saw, but how we destroy ourselves.  Too busy, too tired, rushing, distracted, eating shit, drinking and driving.

If we can’t care for ourselves, our lives, our health, how can we care and make the changes needed to look after the world?

If you enjoyed reading this please share it with friends. You might also be interested in talking to me about coaching , or maybe try some of my online courses (some are free), or treat yourself to a climate protecting pamper with vegan friendly, organic Tropic which supports the planting of forests and education in deprived areas.
Thanks for being here.