Two weeks ago I passed a small parking area across from the Birch trailhead in Forest Park with trash scattered about—after my run I stopped and picked it all up–123 pieces of rubbish carelessly left behind—mostly small wrappers, cigarette butts, and beer cans.
I knew my good deed wouldn’t end at the park lot. I came home and wrote a blog post about it and launched the “Take Three for Our Trails” contest. The ask was simple—pick up at least three pieces of litter, take a picture of it, and post it to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with the hashtag #makeapactpackitout for a chance to win a $10 gift card to REI.
The challenge is rooted in the belief that every piece of litter we pick up makes a difference and if someone spots you packing it out, they’ll be motivated to do the same. Once you start, it’s hard to stop, as my friend, Katherine, recently shared: “you pick up trash once you will continue to see it and want to do something about it.” Apparently, the same is also true for best-selling author and humorist, David Sedaris, who wrote about his litter quests in Rubbish, a short story from his latest book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.
“Take Three for Our Trails” was open for about two weeks and concluded yesterday. I received 26 very trashy submissions, including entries from Japan, England, and Canada. Congratulations to Laurie from Colorado (@) who submitted the winning entry chosen at random. Thank you to everyone who joined the Make a Pact, Pact it Out movement — you left our wildplaces better than how you found them. A special thank you to Laurie and @iwehere from Japan for submitting multiple photos.
No one likes to see litter on our trails and in general I think runners and adventurers alike are good about picking it up, so my ask of everyone as part of the contest was to take their stewardship one step further and share their pictures. By showcasing our litter conditions, we’re creating awareness and encouraging good behavior from someone’s very bad habit.
While the contest has officially ended, don’t let that stop you from picking up litter and sharing your photos. I have an online gallery dedicated to showcasing the litter we pack out. Look for another trashy contest soon—and please remember to recycle the recyclables as part of packing out your litter.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen left behind in the wild? Share your story with me to featured on my blog.