Old Diary

Litter Picking to Develop Eye Hand Coordination

Picking up litter is a humble activity.  It’s the kind of thing that most folks don’t spend much time thinking about.  Oh, from time to time you may notice crews alongside the highway — picking up litter — but more often than not those crews might be convict labor.  I don’t know anyone who ever said, I want to grow up to be a litter picker.

And yet that’s one of the things we do here at Highland Ridge as part of our volunteer duties and you have to have a sense of humor about such things as these.  It’s not like it’s a job that offers much intellectual stimulation.  You hold the stick, you see a piece of litter, you place the litter picker over the litter, compress the handle, bring the picked up litter to the container you’re carrying, and release the handle.  Big deal.

So, knowing me, I have to find more of a purpose to picking up litter than just litter picking!  It dawned on my Sunday while doing our weekly cleanup after the weekenders left — that picking up litter has positive physical benefits.

For one thing, litter picking is good for eye-hand coordination.  I’ve never been great with my hands — I would love to draw, but everything I draw turns out looking absurd and unlike what it’s intended to be.  Litter picking is a good way of tuning those muscles so that the jaws some 28” away from my hand picks up just what I want, and nothing more.

Then there’s challenge of picking up multiple objects all at the same time.  That started by trying to pickup two cigarette butts at the same time;  then I tried three; occasionally I’ll go for four or more.  Or I’ll pick up on item, then pick up something very different in shape and see whether I can manage two or more items.

It’s good for your eyesight.  It’s one thing to see what’s on the ground — we all think we see that’s there, but oftentimes I came to realize that I’m blind to many objects right in front of me.  Often I’ll overlook a piece of trash because it’s partially hidden by a leaf, or embedded in the gravel, or the material doesn’t catch the light and it’s nearly invisible to the eye.

I’m learning that I’m drawn to small shiny objects.  No, I’m not talking about jewelry.  I’m talking about pop-tops and pieces of broken glass, bits of shiny mylar packaging and cellophane.  It’s amazing how many pieces of that stuff a family of 6 — meaning 4 sweet, lovable, but litterbug children.  I have never been into jewelry but I’ve become obsessive about shiny objects.

If it’s man-made and on the ground I want it not to be there.  Peggy is teasing that by the end of the summer 1/2 of the campground will be missing — as we will have litter-picked it up and it’s been hauled off to the dump.  We aren’t that bad, but we do take pride in a clean campground.

The message?

Have fun with whatever you do.  It doesn’t have to be sophisticated.  It doesn’t have to be respectable.  Whatever you’re doing — throw yourself into it and have fun doing it.  I’m sure by the end of the summer I’ll be glad to hang up my litter picker for a few months; perhaps forever — how should I know how I’ll feel in 3 months — but this thing is sure:  I will have had a ball all summer long doing whatever we’re doing.

All of this came to mind today while talking with a camper who kept peppering me with questions about what our duties are.  And it dawned on me that, yes, we do have a list of duties to perform here, but we’re here by choice, we like this place, and we want it to look the best it can for our guests.  As a result I don’t really think about what we’re doing as our ‘assigned’ duties.  In fact the list of our duties is quite vague and general.  We add something to it, we might skimp on a couple others, but bottom line, net-net, the campgrounds look good, the campers are having a good time and our bosses are happy.  What could be better than that?

It’s all about how you see the world around you, and what you give of yourself.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here to chat again tomorrow.


6 thoughts on “Litter Picking to Develop Eye Hand Coordination

  1. I’ve yet to use my litter picker here, Peter….not sure why, but I’ve had very little litter here. Curious, though…do you get a lot of drink cans and bottles? Michigan’s 10 cent bottle deposit really works in that regard. If someone does toss one, someone is there to snatch it up!


    • I wasn’t big on the bottle/can deposit when we were in Oregon — they have the same thing as MI — but I can see it as a good thing.

      The answer is no on cans and bottles. We get a few, On a given Sunday like yesterday I bet we average fewer than a dozen out of 54 sites. There are recycling bins here for bottles, cans, and plastics — most people use them.

      We have a little more of a problem with broken bottles though — not sure why people think it’s fun to break bottles. And there are the occasional attempts to melt down cans in the fireplace.

      Lots of candy wrappers, juice-box straw containers, graham crackers, bread bag ties, twisties and mylar packaging. It’s not a private park so you get public behavior. We have not noticed late night drunkenness to speak of ( 1 case so far and easily resolved by the local gendarme ). An infinite number of cigarette butts though. And they stick around in the environment for 5-10 years if not picked up — and I insist on finding them all. “Fresh” they are easy to spot and catch!

      I’m sure the number of kids results in more litter. They don’t know any better. Most of the retirees are immaculate, spotless. And there really does seem to be a age differential. New campers tend to be much messier; experienced ones usually are better but there are exceptions to every rule. Not dousing your fire has stayed about the same this year compared to our past experience — once in a while you get an outrageous exception — this year we haven’t had one yet, a few forget, most do.

      Sundays are the worst for litter. Sundays are our hardest-working-day. That said, I am sure I use my picker every day, at least a few times… If it’s not fresh litter it’s something that got blown out into sight, or it might also be a small twig/branch that’s easier to grab standing up than bending over. 😀


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  2. Oh litter, how I loathe ye! Just home from a corporate BBQ for 250 people, I have a litter bug up my you know what.:) How stupid are people? Garbage bin placed politely beside a blue recycling bin for cans and bottles – how difficult is that? Clearly harder than you think! I went out of my way to assure my poor staff member it wasn’t malicious intent to assign them the task of separating potato salad and half eaten burgers from beer cans.


    • I hear ya! Loud and Clear!

      Here, we can be blasé about it as it’s a temporary gig picking up after others. But I can see how an employee might take umbrage and wonder, perhaps, what had they done wrong to incur the wrath of the crew boss. or chef or whatever they actually call you other than “Hey You!” 😀😀😀



  3. I live next to the road so people are always throwing their trash in my yard. I use my reacher to pick up the litter and considered that my outdoor exercise including a bit of grumbling. Now I can look at it as being more beneficial since it will develop eye hand coordination. 🙂 Thank you.

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