Ten Months of Stewardship

Image foreground has a hand holding a triangular Granite Gear Grounds Keepers sticker. In the background, slightly out of focus, is a bag of trash leaning against a dumpster which is located in a park.

If each person in Minnesota picked up the same amount of trash I’ve collected so far in 2020, it would result in 588,326,410 pounds of trash being removed from our streets, parks and waterways.

*Based on 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data that estimates Minnesota’s population at 5,639,632.

Trash Collected as of November 1, 2020: 104.32 pounds

Miles Hiked: 130 miles

Trail/Park: State Parks, City Parks, neighborhood streets


Stewardship isn’t really that hard. I’m always amazed at how easily most people walk past trash, watch others drop trash or balk at picking up trash they run across in their activities. It’s disheartening. I hear people say they are just one person and don’t feel their efforts have an impact. I’m here to tell you that while you might be just one person, one person is all it takes.

If each person in Minnesota picked up the same amount of trash I’ve collected so far in 2020, it would result in 588,326,410 pounds of trash being removed from our streets, parks and waterways.

*Based on 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data that estimates Minnesota’s population at 5,639,632.

Picking up trash doesn’t take much. A bag to collect it, a mask, a pair of gloves, a grabber if you want, some hand sanitizer and willingness to make the effort. Even in the midst of the pandemic there are ways to be careful and still make a difference. You don’t need to buy bags. It’s likely you throw out shopping bags, chip, bread and newspaper bags. Using those gives them a second life of sorts. I keep a set of my clean-up supplies in my car and another with my hiking backpack.

What does 10 months of trash look like? Scroll down to find out and read more …

The images in this post represent most, but not all of the trash I collected since January 1, 2020. I document it all to remind myself that I DO make a difference with my efforts. I weigh it to know that I’m making a difference. I share it hoping that it will inspire someone else to join me in making a difference.

I recently completed training to become a Leave No Trace Trainer. During that training weekend we did an exercise around the phrase “I’m just one person”. Each member of the group took a candy wrapper and tossed it to the ground as we stood in a socially distanced circle. Then a moment later we all reached down in unison to pick up the one wrapper we’d dropped. It was a powerful visual reminder that while the amount of trash floating around can be overwhelming, each person does make a difference in their actions. The exercise showed us that each person CAN make a difference by picking up one extra piece of trash.

Back in the before-COVID time, I held what I’d hoped would be the first of many group clean-up hikes on a stretch of heavily used trail not far from my home. I can’t wait to get back to those mini events. For now I’ll just continue to do my solo clean-ups and challenge my followers to do the same. Join me and tag your posts on social media with #weareallgroundskeepers so I can see the collective impact we’re making. If you are interested in learning more reach out, check past posts tagged with “Stewardship” or visit my page on Stewardship Resources.


I want to acknowledge this stewardship work took place across the traditional territory of the Mdewakanton, Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.


Next Post Preview: It’s time to do another Gear Review. I’ll share my experience with the Injinji Toe Sock as a core piece of gear to keep your feet happy if you have issues with blisters on your toes.


GEAR: Merrell Women’s Siren 3 Mid Waterproof, Columbia® Women’s Arcadia II Rain Jacket, Marmot Kompressor Pack, SPOT GEN3 Satellite GPS Messenger, Granite Gear 12L Toughsack, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Dueter Dirtbag, Kula Cloth, Leki Women’s Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA trekking poles. Want to know more about my gear selections? Head on over to Gear & Gadgets or check out my posts titled “Gear in Review”.

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Photo of a group of hikers on a sunny day in a field heading towards a wooded area. The photographer has taken the photo from behind the group.

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