Today’s submission, a plea to pick up litter while on your morning (or evening) constitutional, comes from one Quinn Casey. Io Saturnalia!
1. Forces you to walk slower
I normally walk at an incredibly brisk pace. I have found a zen to slowing down to A) pick up the garbage and B) turn around slowly and admire the clean patch.
2. A pass to roam in “less-than-public” land
I’m not talking about hopping a fence into someone’s farmland. There are areas in the US that are legally private property, but in practice are wild, unused spaces.
For a rule-follower like myself it’s a “you know it when you see it”. Some real life examples of property I regularly trespass on and cleanup:
- A paved sidewalk that ends onto an HOA stormdrain, with well trodden dirt paths throughout.
- Government / Utility company land
- Land beside train tracks, under bridges, and on maintenance roads
Picking up trash adds a layer of innocence to your case when pleading ignorance of your trespassing. Even if you are never confronted, it may help immerse you and ease your law-abiding mind.
3. Repeated hikes are prettier than the last
Paths you roam frequently will be cleaned faster than they accumulate garbage, and there comes a point where the space looks natural, untouched by human kind. In my opinion, having those wild spaces close to where we live is essential to mental health.
4. An excuse to go for longer hikes
I’m stubbornly attached to the (unhealthy) notion that a productive day is a successful day.
5. A problem local enough to solve
Where does this trash go when you bring it all back to the bin? Does this encourage more consumption/litter, since the waste isn’t immediately obvious anymore? Is litter even a substantial environmental problem, or is it just aesthetic?
I don’t pretend to know the answer to these. These are problems for a society, a larger than life culture. For too many years this was the excuse I used to not care at all. To not take any action whatsoever.
What’s the point of helping at all?
Well now I’ve found one. (5, if you’ve been keeping count) reasons to take action in a localized, meaningful way.
Small but constant effort by everyone is just as impactful as a one off million dollar idea. For true change we need to alter our behavior for the long term.
Relax, take a walk. Bring a bag.