Join The Fight Against Trash
By Rebecca Lucas, Girls Who Hike Central Valley Ambassador
For the past few months, I have been a Wild Keeper for Keep It Wild. What this has entailed is doing at least one cleanup a month, and then posting about it on Instagram on a pre-appointed Impact Day. What this has resulted in is now I see garbage everywhere. And I mean, everywhere!
I used to be that person who saw the trash, complained about it, but never did anything about it. I didn’t want to get my hands dirty, garbage is gross, and who wants to touch someone else’s trash with their hands, especially when you’re out hiking and don’t have a way to reliably clean your hands? But now, since becoming a Wild Keeper, I just can’t let it go. And what’s even worse, is now I see even more garbage than I did before. I see it on the side of the road, on trails, in campgrounds, in parking lots, even around my “clean” suburban neighborhood. But, unlike the old me, I don’t just complain and walk away, now I do something about it. And so can you if you follow these three easy steps to help in the fight against garbage.
Step 1: Carry gloves with you all the time.
I got a cool knit pair from Keep It Wild as part of their Earth Day campaign last year. I like them because, unlike rubber or plastic gloves, they can be washed and are reusable. You can even take it one step further and buy a cool garbage grabber. They’re not too expensive (I bought mine off Amazon for $16), they help save your back, and you never have to touch trash with your hands at all. I leave mine in the car so it’s with me all the time. So, whether you use gloves or a garbage grabber, just make sure you have a clean way to pick up garbage without using your bare hands.
Step 2: Carry garbage bags with you.
I like the stretchy ones. They’re a little bit more expensive, but you can shove them full of trash, and not have to worry about ripping a hole in them. I usually have about two or three in the car with me. There won’t always be a garbage can nearby where you’re picking up trash or it might be full, so it’s important to have your own trash bags with you.
Step 3: Pick up the garbage.
Whenever I’m at a trailhead parking area, I clean it up. If I’m out and about and I see garbage, I get my trash grabber and my bags, and clean it up. When I’m hiking, I leave my trash grabber in the car, but I still bring a small bag and my gloves, so I can pick up any trash I find on or near the trail. I walk my neighborhood every day, and while I’m walking, I keep an eye out for garbage. Once I start noticing an accumulation, my daughter, husband, and I do a neighborhood cleanup together. You’d be surprised how much garbage you can pick up just around your neighborhood. And then, after I pick up garbage, I post about it on social media, not to brag, but to encourage others to do the same. Since I’ve started posting to Instagram about my clean ups, whether on official Impact Days through Keep It Wild, or just on my neighborhood cleanups, I’ve noticed a couple of my followers who aren’t Wild Keepers posting pictures of themselves cleaning up garbage. And you know what’s rad? I saw a family the other day picking up garbage around our neighborhood park. It’s spreading, y’all.
So, no more excuses, get your gloves, your bag, and get out there and do your part in keeping our Earth clean.