The Ventilator

Incorporating The Ranger's Blog

Litter and waste

An outrageous bit of littering

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

Today the Ranger had the delight of taking a walk along some of the South Downs Way, for the first time since the declaration of the new South Downs National Park. It was a simply wonderful day. With the dry white chalky fields stark in the bright sun we walked high, high above the smoky weald. The skylarks were so loud as to nearly drown out the distant traffic; and once we gasped at the whisper of a glider sweeping past – seemingly low enough to touch.

View over Steyning

After taking this picture – which does scant justice to the landscape – I noticed something and went to inspect it. You can just see a brown object by the old post in the foreground. Whatever do you think it turned out to be? Well, I’ll bet you wouldn’t have guessed this, and I could hardly believe it was true myself. I spent quite a bit of my early professional life picking up litter, and my stories of odd things I’ve picked up are a constant source of delight for my long-suffering friends and family (“Go on Dad, tell us about how you found the washing machine again…” is a phrase I am still waiting to hear). But this one I’ve never found before. Have you spotted it?

Funeral urn, South Downs Way

Yes, it’s a funeral urn. This is the container in which somebody’s ashes came out of the crematorium. Just to check, I peeped inside and sure enough there was an empty clear plastic bag, which is normally the inner container for such receptacles. I was incredulous, but it really seemed as though somebody had taken the trouble to bring the remains of their loved one all the way up here, had presumably scattered them in a location that had some meaning for them… and then… and then, just chucked the empty container away and walked off. This must take the prize for the most thoughtless incident of littering I have ever encountered. Any other contenders?

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

11 thoughts on “An outrageous bit of littering

  • Wildlife Gardener

    Glen – you could say “at last police had something to go on”….

  • Glen Graham

    At the entrance to our local nature reserve one day, I found a complete, absolutely brand new, still shrink-wrapped…… toilet, complete with cistern! Yes, a brand new toilet still with the manufacturers stickers on, shrink wrapped with the cistern alongside still in a sealed box!
    It was dusty and I suspect it’s been someones abandoned project maybe for a new en-suite or something – anyway I reported it as “found property” at our local police station just in case, but rather unsurprisingly no one claimed it!

    On another occasion we had what we still refer to as “the great underpants outbreak of 2003” …. (yes, our reserve does get a bit surreal) where there were 7 pairs found nearby one of our ponds. From the muddy state of them we reckon local kids had got carried away with the warm weather and gone swimming, then wondered how they were going to exlain soggy pants at home – so left them and went home “commando”…

  • Steph McDonald

    Last summer I inadvertently began a row with my in-laws when I rebuked my nephew for chucking an apple core into a bush in a Glasgow park. They all considered this to be perfectly acceptable as apples fall off trees in nature and are biodegradable. Personally I put it into the category of litter and as such should go in a bin or be taken home. Where do others stand on this?

  • Rambling Rob

    Eric Morecambe might have said, ‘It’s your funeral, Ern – aha, funeral urn!’

    (Eric Morecambe used to say to Ernie Wise ‘Fancy a cup of tea Ern – aha, tea urn!)

  • bill;

    We have the same littering problems is the States, as well. In fact having been to the UK I can say that our problem is worse. The farther humans let themselves get from nature, the more they are likely to not honor nature.

    Althouh it seems irrelevant, video games, shopping malls, TV, and almost all things electronic have separated man from nature.

    We must all rededicate ouselves to helping others understand the mutualistic relationship that man has with this planet. It is not our domain, we are in its domain.

    I love the everyday observations of your website. Thank you.

  • I am sure the scatterer of the ashes wanted to honor the nature lover that requested this particular type of remembrance. But the littering, I am sure the deceased nature lover is just spinning in their grave, oh wait…

  • The Wildlife Gardener

    Wonder what they did with the lid?

  • The Wildlife Gardener

    Yes – Dave – we keep finding piles of butchered deer carcasses in our part of Kent/Surrey, apparently it’s part of the poaching ‘industry’.

  • Roger Cole

    Twas the end of Ramadan and at the BBQ site we found the heads; skins and entrails of two butchered lambs which had obviously served their purpose at the end of the Moslem month of fasting. We’re not sure if they’d been butchered on the spot but it reminded me of Samuel Butler’s quote…..Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.

  • David Larkin

    Well I found the remains of a deer which someone had butchered then bagged up the bits they didn’t want and dumped in a car park. It was quite a relief to find that it was a deer!
    I also got stopped by a member of the public who told me “there is a headless pig over there”, and there was!
    I also had a volunteer bring me some live shotgun cartridges she had found rusting in the woods. Now I always start a clean up session with “and if you find any live ammunition take me to it don’t bring it to me”!

  • Ian Hayes

    I’m not sure if it tops a funeral urn but when working as a fresh faced Assistant Country Park Ranger, straight out of college, I came across an unusual piece if litter. I was closing down one evening travelling around our car parks when in one of our more remote car parks I noticed an extra bag next to our bin.

    This is not usual as we always removed bags when emptying bins so I thought I had better take a look. With some fear and intrepedation I opened the bag to see the head of a woman staring back at me eyes wide open! Having gathered myself I looked again to find a blow up doll shredded into little pieces along with associated ladies underwear, magazines (of dubious content) and used tissues.

    Since that time rubbish collection never seemed to reach those dizzy heights.


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