Litter Cleanup: Why Picking up Trash on the Trail Matters

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Summer is here! COVID restrictions are slowly lifting, and there has never been a better time to go outdoors, get some vitamin D, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the outdoors on a nice hike or walk with loved ones. As we enjoy the priceless beauty and healing nature of our trails and wild outdoor places, it's essential to do our part in maintaining their health and cleanliness by taking an active role in litter cleanup whenever we can. 


Set an Example

Numerous studies have shown that the single most impactful thing you can do to incentivize others to pick up litter is to pick up litter yourself! As soon as you see a piece of trash on the ground when you're out walking, don't hesitate to act! When you lead by example, you set a positive group norm and activate that part in all of us that wants to be good and do the right thing. Each person picking up one piece of litter every time they go on a trail amounts to a significant impact - far more than if we did nothing. 

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Protect the Wildlife in Your Area

Nature's ecosystems are marvels of natural ingenuity, but they thrive in a highly delicate balance. When one animal population suffers, the entire food chain is thrust into crisis. We humans can quickly negatively impact this delicate balance by allowing excess trash and litter to build up. Waterways such as creeks, streams, and ponds can become havens for plastic garbage to pile up. Parking lots and other areas can become impromptu dumping grounds. By refusing to let these crimes go unnoticed, taking part in both individual and group cleanup efforts, and spreading the word on this critical topic, we can make a positive change. We can help protect the sacred populations of fish, birds, other animals, and plants from the existential risk that trash brings.

Photo by <a href="">Brian Yurasits</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>

Shifting the Mindset

For many people, the trash and litter problem seems so big and intimidating that they assume there is nothing they can do as an individual to make a positive change. This myth is dangerous and pervasive, but we can resist it, one person at a time. Even though this feeling of isolation is common, it is not true. While there are so many of us on this earth, our ideas can spread like wildfire. And there's nothing more powerful than an idea that empowers each of us to make this planet healthier and, in turn, make each one of us healthier and happier. Shifting that mindset to believe that "every piece of trash we pick up makes a difference" is key to unlocking the power of large collective human action.

Photo by <a href="">Vero Photoart</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>

Nature does so much for us. It provides us with a healthy habitat, delicious natural foods and sustains our life in every way imaginable. The absolute least we can do is clean up our surrounding natural environments by picking up litter the next time we're out enjoying the great outdoors!