This week, a wander back in time to revisit some of the books and TV programmes which inspired a generation of litter-pickers and recyclers.
Underground, overground, Wombling free
The Wombles of Wimbledon Common are we
Making good use of the things that we find
Things that the everyday folks leave behind
Surely the Wombles must be everybody’s favourite environmentalists. They’ve been clearing up Wimbledon Common since the nineteen sixties, putting other people’s rubbish to good use. I was enchanted by the books & the animated TV series narrated by Bernard Cribbens.
We will find it, we will bind it,
We will stick it with glue, glue, glue
We will stickle it
Every little bit of it
We will fix it like new, new, new.
Do you remember Bagpuss? He was a lovable, saggy old cloth cat who would restore lost & discarded items to their former glory… ably assisted by his mousey friends. This programme transfixed a generation of children who adored Bagpuss & his odd assortment of friends (and hopefully instilled an ethos of rescuing and renewing things which have been discarded by others.)
Stig of the Dump is one of my favourite childhood books, telling the tale of a caveman living in an old chalk pit filled with rubbish. He’s befriended by a boy named Barney who sets about improving Stig’s gloomy living arrangements by re-purposing some of the discarded items they find; windows are created from old glass jars and a chimney of tin cans clears smoke from the fire. Looking back, these two were my first introduction to upcycling.
The Clangers appeared in the early nineteen seventies. Cute, pink knitted creatures who live on a strange, dustbin-lidded planet, they are experts at rescuing space debris and putting it to new purposes. They are my all-time favourite recycling experts; kind, caring, inventive & imaginative, the perfect guardians for a cluttered planet.
(Small & Tiny Clanger, hand-knitted by my mum)
These much loved recyclers, fixer-uppers, up-cyclers & environmentalists have all stood the test of time. Hopefully they’ll be joined by many more green role models for younger generations. Leave a comment if you have fond memories of a book or TV programme which taught you to care for our planet, or let us know which new characters are championing the environment today.