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. Excellent post, a lot of people blame the youth of today for the mess i blame the parents for not teaching them to respect the countryside code. If you can carry it there take it home, my Dad’s pet hate is dog poop everywere It’s not dificult to pick up after your dog.


    • Thank you. Some people like to blame another group of people for any problem in society, but it’s hardly ever that simple in reality.

  2. We saw some Chinese lanterns on a camping trip once. They are very beautiful, but not beautiful enough to be worth so much danger!

    • They do look beautiful floating in the night sky, but I don’t think they’re worth the danger either – they’re totally out of control once released.

  3. I never thought of balloons in that way. It definetly makes sense that animals could die from them, I will definitely do my part Clowie thanks for reminding us all and giving us new ideas on how to help!

  4. Great post! We’ve never run across any Chinese lanterns here but that doesn’t mean that someone else hasn’t. Thanks for sharing… Happy Wednesday!

  5. It sure sounds Clowie, that you are doing a fantastic job of the recycling. You have a handle on everything. Good job. We went and voted for Rumpy.

  6. Mom spent her childhood camping and back packing in the Sierra Nevada in Calif. Her Dad taught her “what we pack in, we pack out”. ANd she lives by that still today. And Dad is always picking up trash left on trails, at the beach,etc. AND we hate, hate, hate ballons!! So stupid! ANd the idiot peeps release them by the thousands at baseball, football games. Dumb, and dumber! Never thought about Chinese lanterns, have not been around them. Good information, great post as always Clowie. Oh, Thank Ceiling Cat I live in Nor Calif because we can put almost anything in our recycle bin and it is picked up every week. We now use a much smaller garbage bin because so much goes into the recycle one. paw hugs, Savvy

    • Thank you, Savannah. My bipeds say they were taught as children never to leave any litter of any description. It’s basic consideration for other people, quite apart from the danger that some litter poses to wildlife. It’s great that you can recycle things so easily! The facilities for recycling are gradually improving here.

  7. We had balloon launches in my school days, too. And now I’m glad to hear that people aren’t doing them anymore for the reasons you’ve pointed out. You did a great job spreading the word for Rumpy’s challenge!

    • Thank you. I’m hoping that more and more people will gradually stop doing things like releasing balloons, as they become more aware of the impact it has on the environment.

  8. Made it on time today Clowie! Your updates are one of the chosen ones finally finding their way into my inbox 🙂 That was a very informative and excellent post…I’d never thought about chinese lanterns before besides that they might have been a fleet of UFO’s! You are a very environment conscious Pyreeeeee and a shining example to every bin raiding canine! You’re doing a great job training your bipeds and getting them to go hiking with you will not only keep them fit but encourage them to help you collect up all that horrible rubbish. They will be very green bipeds by the time you have them fully trained to top conservation standards! Well done! It’s horrible to think what can happen to marine life too…and all because of biped (not yours obviously!) laziness and thoughtlessness…very sad…but when they see you hard at work surely they will stop and think twice!
    Wolfie hugs to my prettiest furry friend!

    • I’m glad my updates are arriving in your inbox now! I do take great care that I check everything that goes into the kitchen bin – I think it’s a task ideally suited to most dogs! I take my bipeds out hiking as much as I can – the exercise is very good for them. It does make me very sad that animals suffer, when it would be so easy for most people to dispose of their rubbish safely.

      • Well now you mention it…I can hardly contain my excitement at the prospect of checking out the contents of the kitchen bins (yes plural, we have two…one for normal rubbish and one supposedly for recycling 🙂 ) Trouble is no-one seems to understand the meaning of recycle and dumps everything in together. I wolfishly separate it all out only for my landlord to decide the incinerator is the best place to dispose of it not the recycled rubbish collecters on bin day!!! Wolfie fleas! That incinerator must do dreadful things to the environment – he uses petrol to fuel it and it has the most horrendous smell and smoke for hours!

  9. We’d rather inspect the trash than the potty box! We didn’t know people released Chinese Lanterns but we can see why they would be a problem. Burning leaves & fireworks are banned here. As usual, you have taken the smart way to helping the environment. We will be posting about our award on Friday, so we hope to see you then! Purrs, sweetie!

    • Chinese lanterns are probably banned where you are because of the fire risk. They are banned here in Spain for that reason. They are quite popular at special events in some places and sometimes hundreds of them are released – it makes a pretty sight, but not so good when they come down.
      I might not visit you on Friday, but I’ll pop in as soon as I can!

  10. Great post, Clowie! I bet so many people don’t even realize the consequences to animals of their thoughtlessness. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  11. A great blog Clowie, we often forget how our way of life in the modern era actually does have an impact on those creatures of nature that we share this planet with.

    • Thank you. Yes, I think the human race, in general, is quite disconnected from nature. The world would be a better place if we were more aware. I’m hoping more people are learning and changing.

  12. Clowie I had no idea about the lanterns and we love our owls here on the Tiny Ten. We love all our birds and want no harm to come to them. Thank you so much for this information packed post.

    • I’m glad you found it useful. We hear owls a lot where we live, and see them occasionally. A snowy owl used the corner post on our balcony as a place to perch and eat for a little while. I think they’re really beautiful birds.

  13. Indeed, sounds like you are very busy. About a year ago here the local police department started a program where they will take expired and/or unused prescription medications. They do a collection about every six months. I thought that was a great idea, a good way to keep medications out of the water supply, great no matter how many legs you have 🙂

  14. Great post with excellent information. I don’t think most people think about “what comes up must come down” when they release balloons and sky lanterns into the air. I wonder how strange it must be for someone to be sitting outside and suddenly have such “air refuse” come flopping down on their heads! 😉

    • Thank you! I don’t think so many people would release balloons and sky lanterns, if they thought about what happens once they’re out of sight. I don’t think it would be very pleasant to have a sky lantern land on your head! A lizard fell off the roof onto the head of a friend who was sitting on our terrace one day – that was a bit of a surprise! The lizard was fine.

  15. Great post Clowie, I wish people would recycle their bottles rather than smashing them in my park and cycle paths, I’ve been close to treading on them a few times:-(

    • Thank you, Misaki! Broken glass is really nasty, it’s dangerous for people and animals. It can be difficult to see it, until it’s too late.

  16. Thanks for staying on top of things Clowie. We hardly have any trash in our house because the city as a very good curb-side collection of ‘blue bag’. All clean paper, rinsed plastic and styrofoam and cans can be recycled. I take glass to a station as it’s too dangerous for pickup. It’s awesome that even though it’s not as convenient for your bipeds, they are very caring about the planet. I’ve never bought a chinese lantern and absolutely never will now that you’ve really opened my eyes to the situation. I love animals too much to be doing any nonsense like that just because it’s pretty.

    • I do my best to check all of our rubbish personally, but one of the cats will help out occasionally! It’s great that recycling is made so convenient for you. They are improving recycling facilities here, but I think it will be a while till they’re as good as yours. I’m hoping that releasing Chinese lanterns will gradually be banned in more places – there are some very good reasons to do so!

  17. The lanterns are banned here too. Our Mummy Janey always gets upset at cocktail sticks..they don’t do good things in a furry person’s tummy.
    The REAL Maple Syrup Mob

  18. snoopys@snoopysdogblog

    Hey Clowie,

    You’re such a good doggie helping check your parents are getting it right with the rubbish, keep up the good work buddy, maybe I should start too?

    Wags to all

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

    • Hi Snoopy! Yes, I think you should start checking the rubbish – it’s good to keep an eye on it, humans throw away all sorts of things.

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