Introduction: The Litter Kit

Picture of The Litter Kit

This is an instructable detailing how to put together a small kit, easily carried, for picking up litter.

So, this past Earth Day, I wracked my brain, trying to think of a practical way to be a part of something bigger. I wanted to do something, anything, to be less of a problem, more of a solution. I brainstormed for hours while I should have been working. Finally, this is what I came up with. It is a small, self -contained 'kit' that is to be mounted on any stick up to 3/4 inch in diameter, making a convenient litter spike that, when not in use, can be put inside it's outer container for easy storage and carry. Another, slightly less Earth friendly reason to make and carry one of these, is, in a survival situation, this kit makes an easy to assemble spear or frog gig, for harvesting fish or small animals.

Here in Summit county, Ohio, we have readily available access to many, many hiking trails and state parks. As if the beauty of the parks, and the wonderful exercise weren't enough, the parks offer at least one other draw to get people out there, hiking. They call it the Fall Hiking Spree. Upon completion, the first year hiker receives a badge to commemorate the year, and a hiking staff to display it on. Annually, hikers are awarded a new badge for their hiking efforts, to proudly display on their staff. The dimensions of the kit are based on my own rewarded hiking staff.

Step 1: Material World

Picture of Material World

My material world was the nearest Home Depot. I bought everything I needed for this project right there.
Here's the list:

1. 1 1 inch galvanized steel pipe. 3 inches long, threaded on both ends.
2. 2 1 inch galvanized pipe caps.
3. 2 1/4 inch bolts. 3 inches long. I used 1/4-20 bolts.
4. 2 eye-bolts. Here, again I used 1/4-20, for consistency, also so I would only have to use 1 size tap.
5. 2 hex nuts. You guessed it, 1/4-20.
6. 1 plastic bag. I used the one these parts came in.

1. Drill
2. 1/4-20 tap, along with the drill bit that goes with it.
3. Tap handle.
4. Bench grinder.
5. Marker.

Step 2: Spike It.

Picture of Spike It.

In this step, we will take our bolts and sharpen them up. I used a bench grinder on mine.

What you want here, is to take your straight, 1/4-20 bolts, and grind the heads off of them. Then take the headless bolts, and sharpen them up to a fine point. Sharpen the side you just ground the head off of.
Be very careful not to damage the threads, and quench the bolt often.

Wear safety glasses, and be careful not to stab yourself. Also, bench grinders can and do throw things. Be very careful not to push the bolt into the grinder too hard, or relax your grip. I have seen bolts thrown through ceiling tiles.

Step 3: Do the 'tap' Dance.

Picture of Do the 'tap' Dance.

In this step, we will be drilling and tapping some holes for our spike, and eye-bolts.

Before we drill, I'd like to point out that I used my foot to brace my pipe and cap while I did the drilling. This is by no means the most efficient way to brace it, and by far is one of the least safe ways of doing it. I would recommend using a vice, clamp, or large pair of vise-grips. One could use a pipe-wrench to hold the pipe, considering it is designed to hold fast to pipes and the like. Above all, be safe. Hold your pipe with something solid, so it doesn't start spinning around and decapitate you. (Thanks NachoMahma)

First, mark a spot, as close as you can get to the center of one end cap. Then drill the hole, using the drill bit supplied with your tap. These bits are a tiny bit smaller than the size of the tap to leave excess material from which the threads are cut.

Next, mark two spots on your galvanized pipe. Each will go on opposing sides, directly beneath the threads at the top of the pipe. If that sounds completely unclear, please look at picture #3 on this page. You will make a mark exactly like this one, and it's mirror image on the opposite side. One on each end of the diameter line, if you like. Now, drill a hole through each mark, as shown in picture #4

Once we have our three holes, we can tap them.
Tapping a hole is a very simple process, however it takes a little patience, and a small amount of technique. If you have no idea how to drill and tap a hole, an excellent video on drilling and tapping can be found here:

Suffice to say, basically, you screw the tap into the hole, 2 turns and then back it out a turn. Use lots of lubrication. Here, I used vegetable oil. Any lubricant will do, but you must use some. Taps are made of very high quality steel, and are very sharp, but because of the grooves in each side, they are inherently brittle and very weak. I have drilled and tapped hundreds upon hundreds of holes, and I still break taps. Go slow and be careful. Because of the hardness of the steel, if you break a tap off in a hole, you will destroy several drill bits, and the hole you originally made, trying to remove the tap.

Step 4: Screw It.

Picture of Screw It.

After making sure your holes are tapped properly, go ahead and screw in your bolts. One spike goes in the end cap and the two eye-bolts go in the holes opposite each other through the pipe walls.

Step 5: Put Your Toy Away.

Picture of Put Your Toy Away.

To put this in storage mode, unscrew the end cap with the spike in it, and then unscrew the spike from it.
Next, screw the spike in the hole but from the inside of the end cap. See photo #1.
Then, screw the end cap with the spike in it back onto the pipe. This leaves one end of the pipe open. Now, to put this in full storage mode, unscrew the eye-bolts, and drop them into the open end of the pipe. Add to that the extra spike we made, just as a back up. Now, take your plastic bag, and stuff it into the end. It's tight, but it fits. (That's what she said.) Lastly, screw on the second end cap, and you have your kit in fully stored mode.

Step 6: Deploy.

Picture of Deploy.

To deploy your kit, you simply go in reverse of storage.
Step 1
Take off the end cap without the spike.
Step 2
Remove the plastic bag.
Step 3
Dump out the eye-bolts, and extra spike. Put the extra spike in your pocket, in case you damage the first one.
Step 4
Take off the second end cap with the spike screwed in it.
Step 5
Unscrew the spike from the inside of the cap, and screw it in from the outside.
Step 6
Screw the end cap with the spike in it back onto the pipe.
Step 7
Place on stick, or staff.
Step 8
Screw in eye-bolts until kit is tight.
Step 9
Use the handle of the plastic bag to tie it to your belt loop.
Step 10
Pick up garbage, and put it into your bag.

Step 7: In Summation.

Picture of In Summation.
Okay, so without sounding self righteous or inflated, the hardest part about building this is committing to carry it with you in your hiking pack, or car, or first aid kit, or whatever. It is very functional for litter removal, and serviceable at least, as a survival tool. Like it, don't like it, fine, but if one person uses this even once, then making it has been worthwhile.

Here is my contribution for this Earth day, all be it a small one.



po'donnell2 (author)2014-10-14

You know, I may try this using PVC, should be a little lighter and be less likely to run into the "pipe bomb" concern. I love to hike and often collect trash on the return leg. I've been looking for something I could carry without having to pack a whole separate tool. With this method I should be able to attach it to either my mono-pod or staff depending on which I'm carrying.

Be sure to post some pics and let us know how it turned out! I only opted against pvc, because I had planned on cutting threads for the spike and eye bolts. I was afraid pvc threads just wouldn't hold up. I suppose you could epoxy some hex nuts to the tube in place of tapping the holes. Keep us posted!

paulijames (author)2011-04-15

OUTSTANDING!!! Great idea and very well written i'ble. This will make camp site clean-up quick and easy. Thanks.

Thanks for the feedback!

stephenf (author)2013-08-24

Very Nice. Simple. Affordable. USEFUL! Much easier to carry than the grabber.
What are the eyebolts for?

hailtothkngbby (author)stephenf2013-11-01

They lock the pipe to whatever staff you decide to use.

Ian01 (author)2011-02-14

Two suggestions for anyone building one of these:
1. Put two strips of metal (curved lengthwise) or a piece of inner tube between the eye bolts and the stick, to protect the stick's surface. The metal would just sit in the pipe; the inner tube might need to be stretched around the stick first.
2. Paint the outside of the pipe green and put a sticker on it saying something like:
because it does look a lot like a pipe bomb. Green means both environmentally friendly and inert (in the context of explosives).

mattthomas992003 (author)2011-01-10

this is great, when I go fishing I carry a plastic water bottle that has walmart bags stuffed in it, usually 12 and I tie it to my tackle box. this would really help so Im not sore the next day!

piperjon (author)2010-10-14

This is fantastic! When I worked on litter crew for the highway department (not community service, either), I would have LOVED to have this contraption. Much better than the nail-in-a-stick we were all issued.

My only question will undoubtedly show my ignorance. What are the eye bolts for? Aiming reticle? Artistic balance?

Great job! - Pj

hailtothkngbby (author)piperjon2010-10-15

The eyebolts are there to hold it on the end of the stick. You tighten them down to clamp onto whatever staff you are using. However, I love the aiming reticle train of thought.

hailtothkngbby (author)2010-02-05

I suppose it could be in the wrong hands...In my hands, its only dangerous to litter!

james.mcglashan (author)2009-09-21

this can be a geocaching tool so when you see rubbish you can get rid of it with ease.

p.s I don't see how i could have a stick in my backpack unless i destroy an umbrella so how do you think there can be a stick included

I usually carry a walking stick with me on hikes and geocaching. However, the beauty of this is, if you don't have one, any hardwood stick, moderately straight, up to 3/4 inch thick will work. You just tighten it down on the end, exactly like you would for a walking stick or cane.

hailtothkngbby (author)2009-07-25

The bag is actually the most convenient receptacle for the litter you pick up with this kit.

clarkshooter (author)2009-07-07

that looks cool

Thanks! It reminds me of an old-time hypodermic needle.

artwhite (author)2009-06-13

bolt or weld an angle iron to look like the Letter "V" and lay the pipe in it and restrain it with a pair of vise grips. Center punch the location of you hole pretty deep to stop the drill bit from trying to walk off the pipe and the start very slowly

hailtothkngbby (author)artwhite2009-06-15

Thanks for the tip! I'm sure the readers appreciate it. Unfortunately, I am so darned impatient, I rarely do things the 'smart' or 'safe' way. It usually ends with me starting over from scratch. I guess one of these days I'll learn, but until then I sort of just wing it until I'm elbow deep in trouble, ha!

mkirbysplace (author)2009-06-10

Tried it got pulled over cop searched my trunk found it had my lie on the pavement behind his car then i over heard him call the for bomb squad assist.. after i explained what it was. he did not think it as funny as me. let off with warning. should make a bunch and go to work talking and yelling at myself

See, I was banking on the fact that most people would think it was noble to pick up litter. How wrong I was.

Yerboogieman (author)2009-05-10

Those people who do community service on the highway will love this.

Here in Ohio, that trash pickup is usually on a court mandated basis... We should probably avoid giving them well sharpened, easily concealed stabbing devices, LOL! Maybe theGreen Grabber litter tongs would be more up their alley.

Yeah, they'll have something up their alley if they go to prison.


Kush_Slayer (author)2009-05-11

lol you can also use it to stab people

I wouldn't recommend it. Thats assault, and maybe a pepper.

bmarshall79 (author)2009-05-11

This was an awesome kit. I bought all the parts and pre-drilled all the holes then took a couple of taps and enough broom stick replacements to our local green camp for earth day. I set up as a "for the camp" booth at the festival being help that weekend and got the more mechanically inclined people to help me finish about 30 by Sunday afternoon. They were all donated to the camp and have since been put into serious use. When you go for a hike on the trails you are seriously encouraged to grab a stick from the bucket and a kit from the basket to use during your hike. When you are finished you put you kit in the "used basket and your trash bag in the bin next to everything.

Wow! Reading your comment has really made my day. I am unbelievably happy that someone has a use for this! Thanks!

cyz980313 (author)2009-05-09

hahahhah nice! kinda looks like a pipe bomb!

hailtothkngbby (author)cyz9803132009-05-10

I thought that too! I figured, if anyone of authority asked, I could just show them what it was, and then I'd probably be off the hook.

NachoMahma (author)2009-05-08

. Excellent idea. Excellent iBle. . I'd like to see a picture of how you supported/restrained the pipe when drilling the side holes. . A picture of the unit mounted on the staff would be helpful for those that can't play videos. . How about using PVC for the pipe and caps as an alternative?

. Thanks! . I actually restrained it with my foot. Not the most efficient method, but it worked. . I'll post one later today. . I thought about PVC, but because I wanted to make this as strong as I could, and I wanted to include the survival use, I figured I would have to sacrifice the weight of the steel for the inherent solidity. I haven't tried one out of PVC, but I think a couple of good stabs would probably destroy the threads in the holes.

. You may want to mention that using your foot, instead of a vise or other clamping device, is not the safest way to do it. . . I was thinking that if the staff were butted up against the internal end of the screw/spike, the stresses of stabbing wouldn't be too great on the retaining bolts. But I'm no Engineer. ;)

That was the reason for including the hex nut on the spike. So that when the spike is screwed in, the hex nut would be against the face of the cap, thereby absorbing most of the impact. I'll add that safety point now. One can never be too careful....

frollard (author)2009-05-08

Cool writeup on a simple idea! I like it!

hailtothkngbby (author)frollard2009-05-09


seanm29a (author)2009-05-09

Neat idea. What about using a wing-nut on the bottom of the spike instead of the regular one? It'd probably make the spike even easier to attach and detach.

hailtothkngbby (author)seanm29a2009-05-09

That's a great idea! When I was shopping for parts, I actually just chose the first few things I could grab that were right size and thread pitch. The eye-bolts were actually so hard to find, I had to have an employee there hold my hand until we found them. He was very intrigued when I told him what it was for though, ha!

Lftndbt (author)2009-05-09

Oh!! Very neat! It some how left me wanting more though. Keep developing this idea more. I'm of to make one now. Thanks.

hailtothkngbby (author)Lftndbt2009-05-09

Actually, I felt the same way! This is by no means one of those projects that I'll be putting away any time soon.

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