Leave the Trail Cleaner Than You Found It: #StepUpPackOut

There’s a loop path that goes behind my old high school, it’s maybe about a mile in length. It’s close to my neighborhood so I walk it quite often. A lot of people do. We would ride our bikes there all the time when we were younger.

There’s a lot of trash though: on the side of the road, in the parking lot behind the school, next to the stream along the trail, buried in the leaves, swept up along the fence. I hate to admit it but I remember thinking to myself at one point “Someone needs to come pick all this up…” But then I stopped myself. I don’t know why it didn’t cross my naive and selfish mind first that that someone could easily be me.

I’m continuously inspired by what the Packing It Out crew is doing for our trails and our environment. They took matters into their own hands and over time they’ve physically packed out almost 2,000 pounds of trash! What if they instead just decided that picking up trash that wasn’t theirs was not their responsibility? Those hundreds of pounds of trash would most likely still litter both the AT and the PCT. They saw a problem and became the solution. 

So today I set out for an hour walk with a trash bag in hand. I filled it up so fast but luckily I found another plastic bag that the wind had tangled in a bush and continued on. All in all I picked up about 3 pounds of trash in my short hour walk. Everything from water bottles to a bulk toilet paper wrapping to a metal fork to a plastic hubcap.

A lady stopped to thank me. She asked me why I was doing it and I told her “I’m trying not to live my life with a someone-else-will-do-it mentality anymore.” She told me that I inspired her to do the same.

An act, no matter how small, is still an act. Our environment and our trails and our communities are our responsibility. On your next walk around the neighborhood maybe take a trash bag with you. You never know who’s watching and what you’ll inspire them to do tomorrow.

I started a little hashtag on Instagram to hopefully inspire people to take a moment or two out of their day to help clean up their communities and local parks and trails.

All big changes started out as small efforts. Tag #StepUpPackOut with a photo of what you picked up and maybe share what your community means to you and why you want to keep it beautiful!

Happy hiking!

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Comments 3

  • Henry Slocum : Jan 25th

    Thanks for packing it out! I’ve been a “backcountry garbage collector” since 2011, and it earned me my trail name (Righteous) on the AT in 2013. Keep it up!

  • paul audette : Jan 27th

    I too am a rubbish pack it out guy. I too recently joined a neighborhood team to pick up rubbish from our streets. Picking up 12 bags our 1st day. In 4 mile walk. We get together monthly. Leaves me feeling better to see clean roads.
    Its really nice to meet others doing the same while on my hikes.

  • Gentleman : Jan 27th

    In all my hikes anywhere I always pick up trash along the way. It’s sad that so many of our own leave these bits and pieces.


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