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GLOSSARY

 

[This glossary is in progress, and welcomes suggestions and contributions]

banner: A burst hanger (see "hanger), emptied of contents, but with its physical integrity largely intact. This is the martial phase in the life of the degrading pooh bag (see "pooh bag: phase/stage").

enlittering: The process through which an item becomes "litter". Not to be confused with litterment (see "litterment").

first sweep: When a section of rural road hasn't been litter-picked for some time it acquires layers and layers of debris, the nature of which is made more complex by heavy mowing tractors which mix, tear up, and redistribute materials (aluminium cans in particular are shredded). Heavy vehicles crush and move the verge; flooding buries, brings to the surface, and carries discards across fields and out of the rivers; and wind blows material in and helps to redistribute and degrade the losts and thrown-aways (see "streamer"). The first sweep is a deep clean, aiming to remove all foreign material large or small. This does not include bones, stones, sticks, feathers, leaves and other material which came from and will ultimately return to the local, natural environment.

fly-tipping: A form of Not In My Back Yard,Yours and I'm Alright Jackism, in which significant items are dumped where they don't belong; a gross variation on littering as such.

frag (n): As they weather, plastic dog-pooh bags lose their structural integrity and break up into irregular and increasingly small pieces or "fragments", which enter the soil and infiltrate the ecosystem for an indefinite period of time. They are light, and easily carried long distances by the wind. The individual pieces, while still large enough to be recognised as the remains of a dog pooh bag, are "frags". See also "shreddies". A frag can be seen as a late-stage shreddy which has lost its original identity, and is the existentially lost phase in the life of the degrading pooh bag (see "pooh bag: phase/stage"). The next stage is a kind of morbid, eternal afterlife, stripped of all but chemical identity, and doesn't have a name (but see "pooh bag: phase/stage").

hanger: A filled dog pooh bag, generally black, thrown into a tree, bush, hedge or other elevated place, and hanging with contents intact. Degradation of the fabric of the pooh bag is in the very early and not usually visible stages. This is the passive phase in the life of the degrading pooh bag (see "pooh bag: phase/stage"), and the safest for the litter picker, although hawthorn and bramble pose risks. A late-stage hanger is one where the fabric has begun to tear and become chemically unstable, but the bag retains its contents. This is a particularly difficult and potentially dangerous phase for the litter-picker.

litter (n): Taxonomically, "litter" is closely related to "weeds", in the class of phenomena which are both obtrusive and "out of place"; alien to the locale or environment, and unwanted. It is subjective and socially determined, and therein lies an issue. An empty cigarette pack in a car becomes suddenly out of place, and obtrusive, calling on the driver to eject it from the local environment and thereby restore the sense of things within the car as they should be. While in the car it is rubbish and unwanted (but not litter). The cigarette pack is thrown out of the car and comes to rest in the long grass of a rural verge. Equilibrium within the car is restored. But a rambler is coming along and sees the cigarette pack thrown out of the car, and shakes his fist. The cigarette pack is offensive and out of place in the countryside; for the rambler it is litter.

Although it might be tempting to draw the conclusion that the intentional act of discarding is a defining characteristic of litter, it is more complex than this. An encountered cigarette pack might have accidentally fallen out of a fellow rambler's backpack, or it might have blown onto the verge from an open-lidded rubbish bin, or simply been left behind when a fellow rambler was knocked over by a bicycle, spilling the contents of their backpack onto the verge and into the ditch: in putting everything back in, shocked and disoriented and furious because the bicyclist simply cycled away, the cigarette pack was inadvertently overlooked.

There are at least four cases of "litterment" - the means by which an object becomes "litter": It might be Deliberate, Accidental, Casual (as in a metallic balloon, filled with helium and let out into the sky in celebration, coming to rest at the foot of a hedge many miles away; never intended to be or considered litter by the people releasing the balloon), or Incidental. Furthermore, it might be discarded, abandoned, dis-anchored (like a plastic feedbag that blows out of a farm cart during a storm), or lost. Underlying "litter" in any event is that it is, whatever it is, obtrusive, "doesn't belong here", and generally has the sense of "isn't mine".

litter (v): (see "littering").

littering: The intentional or unconscious act through which alien material is discarded into the environment; related to evacuation, it is equivalent to defecation into a space which belongs to someone else or to the public at large.

litterment: The means by which an item becomes "litter" (see "litter (n)"). Not to be confused with enlittering (see "enlittering")

litter-picker (also litter picker): a) An instrument for safely picking up items which are foreign to the local environment and potentially harmful in themselves or to wildlife and human beings, such as cigarette butts, bottles, cans, plastics and glass of all kinds, pooh bags, bits of bicycles and cars, and miscellaneous lost and discarded items. They operate with a pincer movement, similar to chop sticks, but generally two or more feet long to increase the reach of the operator, and minimise the operator's need to bend over. Also useful for minor clearing of overgrowth and prising minor objects out of the ground. b) The human operator of a litter-picker (also litter picker).

pooh bag: A small, usually hand-sized plastic bag used by dog walkers to scoop up faeces of their dogs produced during a walk. This protects the public, and children in particular, as well as other animals from the diseases dog faeces can carry. The object is to throw these filled bags away in a general waste or dedicated dog waste bin, for burying in land fill. Pooh bags are often black, although different colours can be observed, and some dog walkers use sandwich bags and other improvised containers.

phases/stages: 1. clear (or new/unused), 2. passive, 3. martial, 4. heroic, 5. pathetic, 6. existentially lost, 7. le néant (or imbécillité; it isn't clear why this stage is named in French. See also discussion under "frag"). Comparisons are sometimes made to Shakespeare's seven ages of man or, more curiously, to Erikson's eight stages of psycho-social development.

public defecation by proxy (see "littering"): What dog walkers do when they bag their dog's faeces and then throw it away from them, often into ditches (where these are available), or on the roadside, or into nearby hedges, trees, bushes and other elevated positions (see "hanger).

primary sweep: (see "first sweep")

shreddies, shreddy (n): Relates to the early stages of chemical bond breakdown in discarded dog pooh bags, when the bag itself is largely intact and identifiable as having been a dog pooh bag. So-called because of the torn and ragged edges, like a ship's ensign which has weathered one too many storms. See also "frag". This is the pathetic stage in the life of the degrading pooh bag (see "pooh bag: phase/stage").

streamer: A burst hanger (see "hanger"), emptied of contents, and shredding in the wind and weather. This is the heroic stage in the life of the degrading pooh bag (see "pooh bag: phase/stage").