There are so many wonderful things that we can all get from being outside in nature. Taking in the fresh air, the sounds of birds and the rustle of critters on the ground, seeing rivers, waterfalls and the flow of seasons. No matter where you are right now people are getting outside more than ever before, even if it’s just closer to home. Feeling like you are able to get away from the hustle and bustle of a city while still close to home is something truly special.
I’ve been spending a lot of time out in my neighborhood and the park spaces that are nearby. It’s something that I’m grateful for this year. In doing so I’ve become more acutely aware of the hard truth that not everyone looks at their time in nature the same way I do. Our definitions of recreation are as different as we are as individuals. Our views of the impact we have are across the spectrum.
I believe strongly in Leave No Trace principles. The idea of leaving a place that doesn’t show signs of human presence. The cool thing about the approach is that it can provide a person with the sense they are the first one in a place even if lots of people go there. I live close to the Mississippi River and think often about how trash of all kinds will make its way into the river and head south to other states and eventually oceans. While the river is relatively clean where I live. We draw from it for our drinking water after its’ been made safe through filtering and cleaning, of course. Having trash get into the river compounds the financial impact to clean it again for use further downstream. So why not stop it before it starts?
Making a Difference While Microadventuring
My Microadventures now all include an element of stewardship. From my cemetery hike to my state park adventures I carry a small supply of tools to clean up what I find that others leave behind. The tools are pretty simple and inexpensive:
- Gloves – I have a few pairs that I can clean after a hike. All have a rubber coating on the palms so that I don’t get the grossness on my hands.
- Grabber – I love this since I don’t have to bend over so far AND I don’t have to use my gloved hands to pick up gross things, plus the one I got for cheap folds in half when I’m not using it making it easy to store in a bag when it needs to be cleaned.
- Bags for collecting trash – you can use any old bag or get a reusable bag like the ones I covered in my post on 11th Essential options.*
- An plastic jar – an old peanut butter jar works great for collecting sharps for disposal
- Luggage scale (optional) – I picked up one so that I can understand what impact I’ve been having. It’s not necessary, but it is fascinating to see my impact measured. Mine is dedicated to trash collection and gets cleaned along with the rest of my supplies as soon as I get home.
*Note that taking extra precautions during our current pandemic is a good idea. Reusable bags should be cleaned and that might not be the best option right now. Remember piece of your toolkit doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. Plus, we are using way more plastic bags right now as we shop so give them a second life as a trash bag!
With those supplies I’ve been heading out from my house for short walks of five miles or less. The crazy thing is that in just five months I’ve collected nearly 80# in my neighborhood and on the trails nearby. There are the usual items like wrappers, plastic cups, straws and cigarette butts. There are the gross things like the bags of dog poop left in the woods. (Pro Tip: just because the bag is green doesn’t mean it is bio-degradable and what’s the point in bagging poop up, if you don’t throw it in the trash?) There have also been the unusual things. A full chair cushion and plastic lights in the shapes of flowers. Most recently on my hike at Fort Snelling State Park there was a small section of dock material. One time I even removed a hubcap nearly a mile from any road.
Every time I go out there is more to collect. If I think about the shear volume everywhere it’s overwhelming. So I chose to think about it much like all of my other Microadventures – small efforts that add up.
Will you make a Microadventure of stewardship? I hope you’ll join the movement to #leaveitbetter
Want to see what others are doing to make an impact? Follow the hashtag #weareallgroundskeepers on your social media channels.
Want to learn more about resources for stewardship? I’ve got a whole page on the website dedicated to it called Let’s Talk Trash for a Minute.
Next Post Preview: I’ll be getting back to my hiking adventures a bit further afield again soon as well as catching up on some that I’ve been behind in posting. Or maybe a gear review. I’ve got a few things in the works! In the meantime, check out the Archives if you’ve missed a post or if you’re new take a minute to explore the site. Thanks for your support!
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