Sitting in a Cornish cafe last month looking out to sea, a man came into view picking up litter. With deft movements of his litter stick he conveyed each piece of litter into a bag held open in front of him. He was not unencumbered, a big pack on his back, and large dog in a harness on a leash attached to his belt. He sat down on a bench by the harbour and I went across to speak to him.
His name is Wayne Dixon, and he set himself a challenge in 2016 to walk the coast of Britain picking up litter. He inherited the dog from his father, and also a house in Lancashire, which he rents out for half the year to fund his expeditions. This much I learned in a few minutes conversation, and several of us made sure he didn’t lack for a drink and a bite to eat. A very British eccentric on a mission which resonates with most of us.
We aim for zero tolerance of litter on the estate roads, and also take some responsibility for the highway where it passes through our land. Wayne’s device for holding a bag open is a useful bit of kit and I’ve now bought a couple for our own expeditions. Early Sunday morning is a good time, before the traffic builds up.
Each piece of litter which lines the road is ‘clocked’ by hundreds, maybe thousands, of people. Does it offend everyone as it offends Jacqueline and me? The more thickly it lies, the more we comment on it. When we conduct a sweep along the highway verges they stay relatively free for quite some time, until the mowers reveal what the grass had hidden. Then it’s time to put the ‘high viz’ jackets on again.
Which makes me think of Wayne. He wore something akin to army ‘fatigues’, and nothing to make him stand out. With the dog at his side, was that a good idea? I have his card; maybe I’ll email him with an inquiry, fellow workers in the nationwide fraternity of litter pickers.