Little acts can make a big difference

With the onset spring, snow is beginning to melt away. This brings the annual unveiling of litter that has, perhaps unknowingly, been accumulating beneath the pretty white stuff all winter long.

My husband and I have decided to start walking in our small community, preparing for our goal to participate in at least one Pennsylvania Wilds trail race this year. (No it won’t be the Hyner Challenge!) We hope to enjoy this healthier lifestyle, while making time to be outdoors even more.

In our first walk a few weeks ago, we set out throughout our neighborhood. It was a short 1.5-mile walk. Around midway, I saw a plastic bag blowing across the roadway. My heart sunk.

Usually when I’m driving, I’ll see this happen. In my typical rush to the next thing (like most of us!), it’s not very practical for me to stop the car, get out and run the bag down. But this was different. I thought back to a blog we posted last year about “plogging,” where folks who jog make the most of their outside experience and actually pick up litter along the way, ultimately beautifying their landscape as part of the journey.

This was my chance.

So, trotting away I went … after the grocery bag. It was in pretty good shape for being blown about, so I decided to fill it up with whatever litter I came across during the rest of my walk home.

bag of collected garbageBelieve it or not, in less than three-quarters of a mile I was able to overfill that bag. Of course there was the usual litter of cans and plastic bottles, but I also came across baggies, a car cup-holder, broken-off Styrofoam pieces, a long-lost birthday balloon, and even an empty snow-melt salt bag.

Beyond doing good for my body and soul by getting some much-needed fresh air and Vitamin D on these early spring days, I was able to spruce up my community and make a difference for the wild creatures that also call it home.

Sure, it’s not an illegal dumpsite cleanup, but seeing the bag full when I got home reinforced the thought that each of us has a part to play in helping our environment.

I said to my husband, who may have been just a little embarrassed about my enthusiasm, “Just imagine if everyone did this when they walked what a difference we could all make.”

Next time, I promise to take my own bag.

This piece was written by LaKeshia Knarr, a Clinton County CleanScapes Advisory Board member and outreach specialist for the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship.

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