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Packing it out

I go for walks on a regular basis, as much as six days a week. I do it for my dogs and I do it for my physical, mental & spiritual health. Sometimes I walk around my neighborhood but I also walk a lot along trails through green space, usually in community parks along a local creek. I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy nature while living in a suburban area. Nature is my happy place, it’s where I can escape from worries and just relax, concentrating on my pushing myself physically, on the plants and animals around me or on nothing at all.

Usually, I have done what I think most of us in modern American society do, and that is ignore one thing while we’re out in nature if we possibly can. Maybe it’s just really one little thing, so our eyes can skip over it easily, focusing on something else instead. Sometimes it’s a bigger thing, and we might think to ourselves or say to each other, oh how can people be that horrible, but not actually do anything about it. I’m talking about litter, and up until recently, I was really good at ignoring it but recently I have found that I just can’t anymore.

water bottle litterI don’t even know how it really started, but maybe I was influenced by things I had seen on Instagram, where somehow I had come across images of litter that people had posted that they had picked up. Probably months later, these little things start standing out to me, and I just couldn’t ignore them any more. Then one day I took some other people on a walk, and there was some conversation about how sad it was that people would litter in such a pretty place, but none of us actually did anything besides talk. On subsequent solo walks, the conversation echoed inĀ  my mind. As usual, I have bags with me when I walk my dogs, and usually some plastic grocery bags as back up, so it wasn’t a big stretch one day to just get really disgusted and think I should just pick up some of this stuff myself, because I keep seeing it over and over and obviously nobody else is cleaning it up.

Sometimes trail trash comes with it's own carry-out handle.
Sometimes trail trash comes with it’s own carry-out handle.
What is sad is how long it has taken me to start picking things up, but that’s what I’ve started doing. Not every day or for the whole trail, but usually at least a full bag full whenever I do, because there really is plenty around. It actually feels pretty good to do something about it and not just ignore it or talk about other people. If you’re thinking that this sounds sad or cool or inspiring, I would encourage you to join me. It’s not that hard. Usually there are garbage cans somewhere nearby so it’s easy to just fill a bag with trail trash and toss it in the garbage. The next time you’re on the trail it might seem a little cleaner, or not – just take a bag with you and do what seems best. Try not to judge others but just do what you can to make things better. If more of us just do little things to help everyone, maybe the idea will catch on…