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My Life Outdoors

Should We Care About Trash? – A Guest Post

Guest Post by Daniel Beach of ShareThisAdventure.com a website for sharing outdoor adventures. If you would like to Guest Post on MyLifeOutdoors please see our Guest Posting Guidelines. Just imagine it, you are strolling along a beautiful trail, paddling along some clear river, or just enjoying the great outdoors we love some much… and then it you see it…trash. What can ruin the awesome natural scenes and experiences all around us so quickly? Trash can. Why should you care about trash?

Photo by Daniel Beach

Trash is the one thing that can bring us all together. From the climber, hiker, biker, kayaker, and everyone in between; we all have this one thing in common, trash. Whether we like to admit it or not we all have walked past that little piece of trash on the side of the river or trail that is like the 600lb gorilla in the room, did you do something about it?

Now, I would be the first to admit that although I’m an avid outdoors lover who climbs, bikes, hikes, paddles, and would rather be outside in the rain then anywhere else, I’ve never seen myself as that much of an environmentalist. In general I detest polluting like any good person with a conscience, but have we ever started really caring about the trash?

Why should you care about trash?

1. It takes away from the reason we love the great outdoors.
Why are we drawn outdoors to do what we do? Maybe it’s the adventure, the surroundings, the escape, but we know it’s just not the same with trash. A nice hike to clear the mind can turn into a depressing trot in the woods, all because of pop cans and candy wrappers.

2. It’s just plain bad for the environment.
You don’t have to be an “environmentalist” to agree what this point. Common sense tells us all that trash laying around and piling up probably isn’t really part of the circle of life. Who wants their favorite spot turning into a mini landfill?

3. It’s bad for the wildlife that live and play in nature.
Another great reason we should care about trash is we love all the animals of Sherwood forest. Who doesn’t love birds, rabbits, squirrels, deer, bigfoot?, and fish? I’m not talking about animals walking around with plastic bags over their heads, but animals will be animals and trash is trash.

4. It can take a place we love to visit and make sure we never return.
Think about it, your favorite State Park, then imagine that same place with trash littering the ground. Not the same is it? I think we all take our pristine favorite places a little too much for granted. They will only stay the places they are if we all start caring a little bit more about trash.

What should you do about trash.

It’s actually pretty simple, all we have to do is pick it up. You don’t have to put on a orange jacket and walk the highways with trash bags, all you have to do is make a difference one piece of trash at a time. Next time we are all walking along that trail and we see that wrapper or pop can, one little act of goodness can make a world of difference multiplied by 100 little other acts.

Not only can we feel good about making a small little difference for the next person coming along, we are just doing the right thing when we start caring about trash. Heck, we all may get so carried about we just might join one of the crazy community cleanup events. Interested in carrying more about trash? Stop by Leave No Trace website to get a little more educated about outdoor ethics.

What do you think? Do you pick up trash when you see it? Is it worth it? Does it make a difference?

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  • Cjsorel

    June 5, 2012

    My 7 year old son is a scout and went on his first canoe trip on a local lake. When he asked me why do people throw their cans and papers in the river I said pure layness. He and the other scouts make it a point to pick up what they saw and think in the long run helps. Nature should be nature and not with trash.

  • Gareth

    June 6, 2012

    That's a really interesting post with a simple solution. Although how can people who enjoy the outdoors drop litter in it mistfies me.

    One question I have to ask Daniel, is did you move the tire? I wouldn't have enjoyed carrying that!

  • Rita Wechter

    June 6, 2012

    Thanks for this post—an important topic for all of us who care deeply about the outdoors.
    Yes, I pick up trash when I see it. I belong to a hiking club and we all got together one Saturday morning to pick up litter from an open recreation area on the north end of our town. Included in the hundreds of pounds of trash we collected were a full size living room sofa (disgustingly dirty) and six truck tires!

    Sometimes I'm ashamed by the utter disregard we humans have for the world in which we live.

    I would like to think that our efforts that Saturday made a difference but every weekend people use this area and trash it again. It's a never-ending battle to clean up after humans and their filth. However, I'll continue to pick up trash when I see it; I figure I'm at least trying to make a dent in this monumental problem.

    Rita Wechter
    Price, Utah

  • Sonny Davis

    June 9, 2012

    Well said. I especially liked your comment about trash along side of a river or trail being the 600 lb gorilla in the room. And like you, there have been times in the past when I've done nothing about it, however, our mind set has been changed over the past few years and we now carry an extra trash bag in our pack for the purpose of removing what we can.

    Thanks for this post!

  • Daniel Beach

    June 9, 2012

    I agree, it's hard to change our own mindset about trash, but doing whatever we can, what is in front of us is our responsibility!

  • Daniel Beach

    June 9, 2012

    you bet I did, this tire was in the lake right behind my new house..in my own backyard! Hard to believe someone else could live like that…

  • My mindset changed when I became a volunteer on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I "adopted" one of the overlooks and the National Park Service entrusts me to keep it trash free. This marks the third year I've been maintaining the overlook and I have to say that people are behaving better than before. Over time, there is less trash.

    I think if the casual outdoors type goes somewhere that they don't see trash, they are more likely to mind their manners and properly dispose of their trash. However, if an area is already junked up, it is human nature (unfortunately) to compound the problem.

    With volunteers all up and down the parkway making the effort to keep the trails and overlooks trash free, it helps encourage visitors not to litter. Now, if I could just figure out how to take care of all the cigarette butts.

    Thanks for the article Daniel.

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