PC #65 / 2 – my plastic bag fetish redux

Just to expand on the previous post –

I came back from the Camino eschewing plastic bags not so much for environmental reasons – although I think plastic bags are incredibly damaging, and in the oceans are killing all sorts of sea life.

No, my reason for not collecting plastic bags anymore was because I’d lost my fear of lack. 

I think fear of lack is at the heart of hoarding – you collect things, or hoard them, because you think there’ll be a time when there won’t be enough of whatever it is you’re squirrelling away.

It is like squirrelling – squirrels put nuts and food away for the winter – for a time when they know there will be a lack of food. In that instance, it makes a lot of sense. It’s been programmed into their survival DNA to keep the species alive.

Hoarding plastic bags doesn’t keep the human species alive. But it does stem from a fear of not having something when you believe you’ll need it.

What the Camino does is it forces you to face that fear.

You can’t hoard on the Camino – it weighs too much! The wonder of the Camino is that it makes you consider everything you’re carrying. And if something is unnecessary, then invariably you ditch it, because it’s additional weight.

The other wonder of the Camino is that it does provide. You learn to trust that when you need something, it will be there for you. You just have to trust.

So I came back from the Camino having lost that fear, and gained that trust.




13 thoughts on “PC #65 / 2 – my plastic bag fetish redux

  1. After I came back last year, I started eliminating unnecessary items also.

    Plastic bags, I must admit, were also a thing that I had tucked in cupboards everywhere, the bathrooms, the kitchen, the pantry, the laundry room and even the garage. Now when I shop if I forgot my “green” sack, I ask for a paper bag. I’m proud to say I only have a very small stash of plastic bags remaining.

    Another thing I don’t hoard any longer is food staple items in my pantry. I live alone and pre-Camino would always have at least 6 cans of tomatoes for sauce, various different types of pasta, several cans of beans in each of several varieties, dry beans in all varieties and rice – brown, white, black, red and both short and long grain if available . That’s only to mention some of the pantry items I stocked. Today my pantry is empty compared to what it was a year ago. I don’t want for anything, if I need it, I go to the market.

    Yes, Bill, the Camino changes us in many subtle ways! Friends have commented on my personality having mellowed since the Camino, that is yet another miracle the Camino performed.

    I wonder what lessons this upcoming Camino will teach me. One thing I can say is “Bring it On!” I’m loving the Camino changes and lessons I have learned.



    • Dear Arlene –

      That’s funny, the changes you’re describing. It’s exactly analogous to the plastic bags thingy

      Yes, reducing your backpack means you can reduce EVERYTHING in your life.

      that’s one of the huge benefits I think of doing the Camino, if that concept sticks with you when you get back home.

      I’m writing the epilogue for my book, writing about the changes –

      Here’s an excerpt:

      I came back home a changed man.

      I knew this as soon as I got into my car. I felt different. I drove slowly. That was certainly different. And I was more tolerant of moronic pea-brained drivers. That was different too. When someone started tailgating me because I was going so slow, I didnt scream at him in my rearview: YOU IDIOT!

      Instead, I thought to myself: Bill, pilgrims dont do road rage. I would merely smile when the idiot overtook me, glaring at me as he passed as if there was something congenitally wrong with me for being 15kms under the speed limit.


  2. So, does anyone know what happens to all the stuff that gets “ditched” on the Camino when it becomes too much to carry?

    Since I live in Seattle, and we have a plastic bag ban, I’ve had to buy a small box of plastic bags to carry things separately in my backpack…ironic?


    • Hi Terry –

      pilgrims leave stuff at albergues in case another pilgrim might want it –

      for instance, I left my protective vest at Roncesvalles albergue –

      you can also post forward stuff if you think you might need it later.

      I know some people complain about litter on the Camino – I found it surprisingly clear, given the number of people who walk it each day.

      when I did see litter though, it upset me, because I wondered how anyone could throw away their soft drink can or other packaging. Often if possible, I would pick it up and trash it in the next town.



  3. We lived in Poland back when the Berlin wall was coming down. There was serious lack. If ever you saw a queue on a street or in front of a shop, you joined it and would buy whatever was at the end of it. At first we laughed about this. After living there a year, we discovered ourselves at the head of the line one day and we realised something had changed. The opposite to your change!


    • Wow Rachael –

      that must have been the most amazing time to be in Poland.

      By the way, I love Poland. Just love it. Was there about 18 months ago – travelled around a bit – found it fascinating.

      What a great story though about standing in queues!

      (where do you live now?)



      • across the ditch from you on a quarter acre section with chooks and a vege garden (and the eight kiddos and hubby, and father-in-law next door….he comes for dinner every night and is another who never throws anything away and is always using up odd bits and bobs to remake things)


  4. Hey, Bill, I just wrote a reply being scathing about your attitude to Rachel just because of a football team … and WordPress denied it!! Do you somehow have editorial control?? 🙂


  5. Never mind the All Blacks comment (I REALLY don’t care!) – I was more taken with being called a young lady when I’m in my 40s;-)


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