Monday, December 2, 2013

Pick Up Trash

Day 1: Pick up Trash

Okay, I know it sounds simple and like a no brainer, but how many times have you been out and about and seen plenty of trash? I often carry a few extra grocery bags in my gear bag. While these are great multi-purpose tools (use as a dry place to sit on the wet ground, carry home "natural treasures", etc.), they can be a handy way to pick up trash while we are out and about.

While home visiting for college one summer, we had a great evening watching the fireworks in a small Georgia town. Knowing the traffic would be horrible, my family lingered longer while the crowds dispersed. As we waited on the hillside, we started picking up the trash near our spot. Our circle gradually became larger and another family that stayed behind started picking up trash as well. In a short amount of time, we had picked up ALL the trash on the hillside left behind from the Independence Day crowds. We easily saw the impact we made and realized how small acts of kindness do not have to take much time, don't have to cost money, and can easily be done by seeing a need and pitching in.

In geocaching, one guiding principle in Cache In, Trash Out (CITO). Basically, if we are gecocaching, we should try to leave the area better than we found it. We have practiced this principle many days and many ways as we stop for a quick geocache or hike. It doesn't take much time and can be an adventure in and of itself. It feels good to see our impact. Special CITO days are organized throughout the year to gather with fellow geocachers, yet it also can be done on a regular basis as we interact with our daily world. As an added benefit to geocaching, a recent study has shown physical and mental health benefits for geocaching. Get your cache on and pick up a little trash!

Even if not geocaching, we find picking up trash to be a normal activity we do when we're out on hikes. I found these pictures from last February. I didn't blog about it and actually am not quite sure where we are, but am glad that we captured one way to show a little nature kindness!

And, the boys? They were not worse for the wear! In fact, they seemed to have a great time while having a little outdoor time and nature service! Now they seem to be the ones that suggest picking up the trash when we're out and about.

A few considerations: 
1. Having something to put trash in is helpful, like extra grocery bags. These can be folded very small or put in old film canisters (hard to find now!) to carry on the go. It's nice to not have empty beer cans floating around the area.
2. Hand sanitation can be nice. We don't use them very often, but the small bottles of liquid hand sanitizer can be handy when we're out and about. Gloves could also be worn as further protection.
3. Some trash shouldn't be picked up! A fellow Indiana Master Naturalist found meth lab trash while cleaning up one day. Avoid questionable items. 


What adventures have you had picking up trash?