The Pick (Up) of the Litter

I’ve been thinking about what I could write about for Rumpy’s Animal Welfare Challenge. It’s quite difficult for a dog to do anything that makes a difference for other animals. I want to talk to you about litter and rubbish and lanterns, but before I begin I’d like to remind you that Rumpy needs your vote in the World Spay Day Pet Pageant.



I like to go out hiking with my bipeds. We carry food and water and have a picnic while we’re out. I always make sure that they pack all the wrappings into one of the rucksacks and that we leave no litter behind us. If we see any dangerous litter that someone else has left, I make sure that my bipeds pick it up and dispose of it safely later. It only takes a moment, but could save an animal’s life. Every year the RSPCA gets 7,000 calls about litter-related incidents  – and that is just in Britain!

Household waste

I try to inspect every item that goes into the rubbish bin at home. I don’t enjoy checking the rubbish, contrary to what many bipeds think about a dog’s motivations for looking in the bin! But I think it’s a small thing to do if it could save some lives. I make sure that my bipeds recycle as much of the rubbish as possible.

We have recycling for glass locally, so it’s easy to put the glass in the correct container. There isn’t any recycling for cans near us. We don’t use many, but when we do I make sure the bipeds rinse them and flatten them with the lid inside – we’ve all heard stories of animals getting stuck in them. Lots of waste ends up in landfill sites and animals go and rake over the rubbish for an easy meal.

Batteries contain a poisonous fluid, so my bipeds save them until they go to a larger town where there is recycling for batteries. Medicines, animal or human, are taken to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

What goes up must come down!

I’m told this is not true if something goes up high enough to get out of the earth’s atmosphere, it will then go out into space. But balloons and Chinese sky lanterns will come down, and no one knows where. I know many people find the sight of them beautiful and they’re often used as a message of hope, but I’m a dog with four paws planted firmly on the ground and I see them as tomorrow’s litter.

I find balloons in some really remote places, when I go out hiking with my bipeds. I get my bipeds to pick them up because animals can die from eating them. They are also a problem if they land in the sea and are eaten by marine life.

It made me really sad when I discovered that owls can get confused by Chinese lanterns and have died after colliding with one. I think owls are beautiful, so that is quite enough to convince me not to release a Chinese lantern into the sky. But I asked my bipeds to help me find more information because I don’t think many people would release lanterns if they knew the damage they can cause.

My bipeds found that some countries, and some states in America, have banned the release of Chinese lanterns because of the fire risk. There has been publicity about the wire frame of the lantern causing problems for animals, but many people think that lanterns called biodegradable that do not have the wire in them are safe. However, there is no agreed standard for them and some have sharp pieces of bamboo which can take decades to decay and are dangerous to animals.

The Marine Conservation Society wants Chinese lanterns banned, they say they harm wildlife. They also quote the Coastguard and Royal National Lifeboat Institution as saying that Chinese lanterns are sometimes mistaken for flares and they have had false alarms because of them.

My bipeds had already promised me that they wouldn’t release balloons or lanterns. They signed the RSPCA’s petition calling for a ban on Chinese lanterns in the UK and they will look for petitions calling for a wider ban.

I’ve just heard one of the bipeds putting something in the bin in the kitchen – I have to go and check it out. A dog’s work is never done!

See you next Wednesday!

Update: Serious fire caused by Chinese lantern – article in Guardian 01/07/2013

115 thoughts on “The Pick (Up) of the Litter

  1. Wonderful information & keep up the great work! We are avid recyclers in our home and applaud your endeavors. My mother belonged to a group who sought to protect the nesting grounds of sea turtles in Daytona Beach, Florida.She would have my dad take her to the beach where she met her “save the turtle friends” and mom would sit in her wheelchair and they would block off the section where the turtles were laying eggs. Forgive me for digressing but mom was a fantastic lady! Sincerely Yours, Nancy

    • Thank you! I would have liked to meet your mother. I’d love to see the turtles laying eggs on the beach – from a safe distance so that I don’t disturb them!

  2. Great post Clowie. Impressed by your attention to detail in all areas of life, especially the bin. We should all be vigilant while out and pick up the mess others leave behind and sign any petition that helps stop humans endangering animals by negligence and thoughtlessness.

    • Thank you! I think it’s important that somedog keeps an eye on, or preferably a nose in, the kitchen bin – it might as well be me! So many lives could be saved by just taking a moment to dispose of things safely.

  3. Very good work you are doing Clowie. I agree with you on every point! Especially about the balloons and chinese lanterns!

  4. I have often wondered about chinese lanterns. I’m glad to say we have never released any. We are a recycling home too and (although this is nothing to do with rubbish) we have solar panels too which apparently makes us very green – this is odd because I’m black, Raffles is cream and The Help is a funny pasty shade!
    Zac was happy to recycle anything but I am more discerning 😀

    • Zena, my bipeds want to get solar panels. They talk about being as green as possible but, like you, I’m confused because none of us look green!

  5. Great ideas here, Clowie. When Mom was a teacher, her class would have balloon launches every now and then. They were banned years ago for just that very reason of danger to the animals. Keep an eye on that garbage pail! Good work!

    Love and licks,

    • Thank you. I think it’s a positive thing that the release of balloons and lanterns is banned in some places, I hope it will spread.
      Don’t worry – I’ll do my best to check everything they throw away!

  6. Good for you Clowie! You’re being a very vigilant guardian of the environment as are your bipeds. If we ALL did that, our world would be a more beautiful AND safe place that’s for sure!

    Kitty Hugs, Sammy

  7. Great post Clowie and we agree checking the bin is an impawtant job that must be done with dedication. We recycle where we can too. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  8. That was fantastic Clowie, I never knew that the RSPCA over here got so many calls, people are so irresponsible and as for those Chinese lanterns.. they are really dangerous. Have a wonderful Wednesday, we are behind Rumpy all the way 🙂 xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  9. YAY! Thanks so much Clowie. I also inspect the garbage. We have free-roaming kitties in our neighborhood, so one thing I do with garbage is make sure the storage bin is secured so a kitty can’t get inside and get injured or stuck. As for the Chinese lanterns, I had no idea they could be so destructive. Thanks for bringing it to our attention! woo woo!

    • Thanks Rumpy! I’m really pleased to hear that you check the garbage, I think it’s an important task for us! That’s a very good point about securing the rubbish so that kitties can’t get inside. Foxes climb in, if they can, as well.

  10. I don’t get why humans like to leave trash out in the wild or anywhere but the trash bin for that matter and tossing stuff like balloons into the air doesn’t make sense to me either. I think in the US littering is getting better than years ago but it still kills us when we see someone toss trash out their car window!

    • I hate to see litter, wherever it is, but when it’s in the wild it tarnishes the feeling of being away from it all for me. It’s just so unnecessary to leave litter about.

  11. Such a bright post ————— 🙂 as always – xo
    You are fantastic Clowie dog xxx and Rose of course xxx
    and of course voting for rumpy as i fear the wrath of June Buggie 🙂 lol xxx
    sharing sharing sharing 🙂 xo
    C xx

  12. Thanks you for this informative post Clowie! I will be sharing the links about the dangers of Chinese lanterns

  13. the lanterns are banned here too – and that’s correct. Thanks for your great post!!! We like owls too but sadly here the owls are in danger when the eat mice who are contaminated with pesticides which the farmers spread on their fields…

  14. Great post Clowie! What a great job you do at your house! It is impawtant that people know that what they do or leave can cause harm, because a lot of people don’t think until the consiquences of their actions are pointed out to them.

  15. You’re doing good work Clowie…There’s so many careless things hoomins do that can hurt animals and sometimes they need to be reminded of this by a conscientious dog like you…We worry about all the plastic bags that end up in the ocean that can harm birds and turtles and others…We’ve found mylar balloons way out in the woods on our hikes and always pick them up…Momz is not sure what Chinese lanterns are…maybe not popular here? did you see the photos of me meeting two of your cousins on my blog yesterday?

    • Thank you, Gizmo. Plastic bags are a worry, they cause a lot of deaths. Some places are beginning to ban them now, which is a good thing. Maybe your state is one of the sensible ones that has banned Chinese lanterns? Many warmer places have banned them because of the fire risk – setting a naked flame adrift in a glorified paper bag is a real concern where there is dry vegetation.

    • I meant to say I’ll make sure I don’t miss your post from yesterday when I visit your blog later!

  16. Great job! We pick up trash and recycle too!!!

  17. Great post, Clowie. One year, before we were rescued by our bipeds, they took a walk with my former siblings and saw a bunch of plastic bags on the hike trail. The picked them up and started collecting garbage along the way in it. A lot of it was recyclable things (bottles, cans, plastic) that they could get money for. The spent that year on a campaign to pick up all the recycle they saw on their walks, even bought huge garbage cans for local merchants to collect recycle garbage in, had people with recycle bring it to their driveway and brought it all in for cash which they gave to Canine Adoption Rescue League (CARL) a very well known Ventura County, CA no-kill rescue. At the end of the year that had given them $1019! They had to stop because mom’s health was too ify and all the germs but it started a little movement that we can sure wag about. Wanted to share with you as a fond memory. Love your post, you, and your typist. Max & Bella

    • What a great thing to do! The countryside was improved and made safer at the same time as making money for homeless dogs. That’s a real winner! That’s quite a lot of money to make from things that people had thrown away, you must have cleared a lot of rubbish.

      • The amount of $ should give an idea of the amount of recycle we collected. It did turn into a small community effort. It breaks our hearts to think of other animals getting hurt from broken glass or inhaling plastic bags not to mention sea life strangling in those darn plastic circular six pack holders. That’s why we love this post so much. Kudos, Clowie. Max & Bella (your fans)

  18. Great tips – hopefully everyone will one day take such good care of the beautiful places we all share.

  19. Stella the Great Newfenees here, via my scribe.
    We have a lot of building sites near us now as land to the west is under development -:o/= The workers are constantly leaving water bottles, tin cans and beer cans among other things. I am constantly picking them up and bringing them home for Elizabeth to put into the recycle bin. I often find work gloves, too, which I really love to chew on, so I keep them for myself. Sometimes the workmen leave their lunches just lying around. Some two-leggers are so wasteful. But I really don’t mind cleaning up for them – at least on those occasions. ~:od=
    I’m with you on the Chinese lanterns, and also fireworks. The forest here can be very dry in the summertime, and we live in constant fear of forest fires. We’d lose everything because there’s no way fire trucks could get to us in time.

    • Hi Stella, it sounds as though you do an excellent job of clearing up after the workmen. If they don’t learn to be tidier when you clear away their lunch, I don’t think there’s much hope of them learning!
      Forest fires are a worry here at times. Occasionally they’re even started on purpose!

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