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Picking up a little Trash

Pollution can be overwhelming, but little habits can help us take responsibility and affect real change.

By: Cameron Catanzano + Save to a List

Many people would admit that there is an abundance of trash that has polluted our world. Many would also admit that this isn’t a good thing and that things should be done to stop this.

So long as these single-use plastics are being created they will end up somewhere where they won’t break down. Corporations have a responsibility in this and they should be held accountable. In the meantime, the least I can do is pick up a little trash here and there.

I was raised by the example of those older than me that to pick up trash while at the beach or on a hiking trail was a duty that established myself as a man.  This was never verbally expressed to me, but I saw it through some of those whom I looked up to.

However, I compartmentalized the habit of picking up trash. Picking up trash at a national park is great, but the fact is that those aren’t where most of the trash is. It wasn’t until going for a walk that paralleled a main road when I truly realized how much trash is out there.

I had made this walk several times before. It’s a beautiful stretch of cliffs along the Pacific Ocean connecting my dorm to Ocean Beach, San Diego. On the way back I saw a small piece of plastic and began my little habit only to spend hours collecting more trash than I had ever picked up in one afternoon.

It never hit me until then. All the trash we read about isn’t in some far off place. The trash is where the people are!

The good news is that people are the ones who can pick up trash. Few people are in the position to deal with the massive amounts of plastics already in our ocean, but every person can pick up a couple of pieces of trash before that trash gets to the ocean.

Have you seen the amount of trash that’s in downtown San Diego?! Whether you’re in an urban area or hiking right along the coast, that trash on the ground will make it’s way to the ocean. Picking up a few pieces of trash here and there makes a huge difference.

Last week I had a little over 40 people view my blog. If each of those people picked up 5 pieces of trash that’s 200 pieces of trash!

Sometimes I’m in a rush and forget about it while I walk up the hill on the way to class, but sometimes I’m not in a rush. I notice piece after piece until I walk back to my dorm with two handfuls of trash.

The history books won’t read of Cameron Catanzano, the guy who picked up some trash on his walk from class, but if my small actions can inspire you to do a few more small actions, and if your actions inspire a few more small actions then that is how real change happens.

Maybe you end up taking this a step farther and participate in, or organize beach cleanups. Maybe you’re already someone who works actively to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that we produce. If that’s you, thank you. You’re a saint.

For us regular folk, the least we can do is pick up a thing or two of trash. I’d rather take 40 people picking up 5 pieces of trash each than 1 person picking up 100 pieces. It’s simple math.


This post was originally published on camandtheoutdoors.com.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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