In a short span of two hours today I acquired an excellent collection of gel packages, Gatorade bottle caps, cliff bar wrappers, even a broken headlamp! The litter reeked of us athletic types, and frankly made me a bit sick to my stomach.
Today I participated in a “trash bash” run held by the North Texas Trail Runners. Now, the last thing I’m trying to do here is to come off as self righteous. This is my first time making it out to the annual event, and my participation was long overdue. This year however, the event tugged at my heart and I felt like “I owed it” to the trail since it has provided me some quality mileage over the past year.
I know that many people find refuge in this trail. We are so fortunate that it is available to us in our community filled with skyscrapers, strip malls and parking lots; so it’s a bit hard for me to understand why someone would contaminate this sanctuary. Most trail runners or bikers carry some kind of pack with them, and even hydration packs have an extra pocket for trash. Why toss your garbage on the ground?
Is it by accident? Do people not know the affects on our environment (or care)? Is it too much to carry it all? If such is the case, I’ve researched some ways to make “packing it out” easier.
1. Gel packets- when tearing your gel packet, don’t tear the top completely off. We found many more tops of gel packages on the ground than bottoms. If you tear the top half way, the whole package leaves with you.
2. It is possible to leave most potential trash at home if you take the time to properly repackage food supplies. Reduce the volume of trash you have to pack out. Save weight by repackaging solid foods into plastic bags and liquids into reusable containers.
3. Follow the old Nike adage and “just do it!” Stash wrappers in your pockets or hydration pack. Many trail races will actually disqualify you if they see you throwing trash on the ground.
4. Stop and think. Every little piece of trash makes a difference. Here are some common trash items and their decomposition life:
- Banana Peel: 3-4 weeks
- Paper Bag: 1 month
- Cardboard: 2 months
- Wool Sock : 1 year
- Tinned Steel Can: 50 years
- Aluminum Can: 200-500 years (But if recycled, it can be reused within 6 weeks!)
- Disposable Diapers: 550 years
- Plastic Bags : 20-1000 years
- Plastic Jug: 1 million years
- Glass : 1-2 million years
- Styrofoam: 1+ million years
Don’t be a “trashole”. Stash your trash.