Published on October 21st, 2014 | by Editor0
If you don’t have an entire Saturday to volunteer to help out your local park, there is one simple thing you can do on your next hike–bring along a trash bag.
I always bring along a big black trash bag because it packs small and has a lot of uses:
- Makeshift rain jacket
- Dry place to sit
- Place to stick found trash
That last one is what I use it for the most. Unfortunately, not everyone cleans up after themselves.
As a family, we hike a lot. On a recent hike through an extremely popular state park we were stunned by how much trash we saw along the trail. The greatest offender was the ubiquitous #2 water and soda bottles.
The next greatest offender — candy wrappers.
We’ve seen plenty of empty crushed beer cans and cigarette butts too.
I wonder about the people who leave their trash behind. Where do they think it goes? Do they think there is a magical trash fairy who collects it? That it somehow decomposes? That they are better than anyone else and can’t be troubled to carry out what they carry in?
I would be horrified if someone’s first hiking experience was sullied by someone else’s trash. I feel the right thing is to become the Magical Trash Fairy and remove trash along the trail. It is a small thing that I can do that could make a big difference in someone else’s day.
However, I don’t throw the trash away at the park. Why? Parks spend anywhere between 10-25% of their operating budget on trash removal! Parks that are already strapped for funding are spending tens of thousands of dollars each year to simply remove trash. That is just the financial impact, the carbon footprint is much greater.
When I get home with the trail trash, I separate out the recycling and toss it with my recycling and put the trash in my trashcan. This isn’t anything life shattering. It doesn’t take a lot of effort.
So here is my challenge to you: Become the Magical Trash Fairy on your next hike. Bring along a trash bag and collect the trash that you see. This small act of kindness will make an enormous difference both in the health of the trails and the financial health of the parks we love so much.