Let me get a couple of things straight off the bat. I love Geocaching. I will tolerate the mocking of my friends and family who cannot fathom why I participate in such an activity. Their mirth means little to me when I am deep in a cave, under a bridge or up a tree in the pursuit of a small hidden box. It feels me with pleasure.
Secondly I cannot abide litter. I see no reason for it, I cannot understand why it exists and clearly is dropped by the uneducated, careless or plain ignorant people. I do what I can to eliminate it when the opportunity arises (CITO) and I teach my children the importance of placing everything in the rubbish bin (or ‘Trash Can’ as my American crazed daughter likes to call it)
It was therefore painful to me to find a recent cache which I perceived as plain old littering, placed with not enought thought or care but even more irritating was the reaction of other people to the perceived problem. Let me explain;
Picture if you will a small cul-de-sac with nicely kept gardens, cars being washed on Sunday, hedges trimmed. The sort of place that you would be happy to live as it appears everyone keeps their little castle clean and tidy and makes an effort. Could be any town across the UK and just happens to be close to where I live. I was hunting for a cache for ’31 Days of Geocaching’ and headed off to find this cache which was placed close to a small electrical substation on this cul-de-sac.
Now the logs for this cache had warned me that it wasn’t going to be a particularly nice one to find. That’s the game of caching though, not everything can be fantastic all the time, but the cache owners had other caches in my area which were of a high standard I thought, so how bad can it be?
The answer is very bad. It was placed in a trimmed and kept rose bush and was simply an empty deodorant can thrown on the floor. The log was in the lid and it was just there, looking at me and to be honest, making the otherwise fairly nice area look very untidy indeed. I thought long and hard about what to do. My heart told me to take it to a bin straight away but my head won the day and I signed the log and decided to ask the CO on the logs page to consider perhaps swapping it for something more suitable. A fake rock perhaps or a nano on the signpost. My answer was short and swift. The CO had decided to leave it be. This wasn’t good.
I decided to ask the wider audience of the GC.com forums, as to if I should remove the offending item or just turn the other cheek. As usual the replies were of no use to man nor beast and instead of commending me on placing my head about the parapet and trying to move away Geocaching away from littering, I was shot down in flames about the outright cheek of even asking for it to be replaced.
It was the same on the UK Geocaching facebook page, although the response was slightly warmer. (I am currently waiting on my application to join the group to be accepted) – most people couldn’t understand why I would question the use of a better form of hide. I have no idea what sort of area these people live in, perhaps litter is the norm, but I don’t want it in my village! I was disappointed by some of the comments and look forward to putting my side of the story across. A member of the otherwise entertaining Podcache Show even suggested sabotaging my logs.
So what have I learnt? It takes a brave person to stand up and say “do you think we could improve that at all?” rather than just turning a blind eye. I am that person. Lets not forget, I don’t live up this street but out of respect for the elderly that do, and the kids that use this area to play, I’m not going to stop flagging things up because I don’t want the flak of a few people in forums and Id like to think that most Geocachers would think the same way, its just becoming more of a struggle to find them.
We can do better than deodorant cans in bushes. That sort of cache is only going to get us a bad name. The CO has other caches which are fantastic and have already received favourite points off of me. I am disappointed with the decision to keep this as is and also by the wider audience of cachers that seemed to have no problem with it. Perhaps if litter/caches are placed at the end of their garden they will think differently.