Monday, April 12, 2010

Teach Them Better

Over the weekend, we went camping in the Uwharrie National Forest (NC). This particular camping (and 4-wheeling) trip was organized by Carolina Rover Owners Club (CROC). I should go ahead and say that my husband really enjoys 4-wheeling, but I-- honestly--don't get it. I go to specifically to hang out.... BUT this time was different. This time, I was given a mission. For the second year (I didn't go last year), CROC held a competition for picking up litter.

Rule & Prize: Whoever picked up the most litter (by weight) on the trails would win $50.

Of course, I told my husband (and everyone we knew) that we had this competition in the bag and there was no way we wouldn't win ;)

SO...for once I was excited to go 4-wheeling... because we knew exactly what we would do with our winnings.... AND because without the ability to 4-wheel... there would be no way for me to hike my way around the forest with 3 kids in tow.

Saturday with a line of 4 Rovers following us on the fire trails... we took our time... stopping when we saw litter along the trails. I felt a tiny bit bad holding up the line... wishing we were at the end of the line... but then constantly reaffirming to myself that being in the lead was a positive thing because not only were we first to pick up the trash....others could see what we were doing and hopefully it would catch on (maybe not that day... but I know it'll catch on) ;)

This is everything we were able to stop for... hop out... and pick up:
Plastic bag with cigarette wrappers, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, chocolate candy bag, chip bags, intake hose, metal spoon, plastics, and a WHOLE bottle of antifreeze!

When I took the picture and saw everything that we picked up... I was happy and kind of bummed. "Happy" because we took the time to do the right thing.... "bummed" because the forest trails have only been open for 2 weeks this year... AND the trashing has already begun. I just can't understand how people (especially outdoor enthusiasts) can throw their trash to the ground. Shoot... I remember the PSA's from my childhood....and just visiting YouTube... there's a PSA about littering/polluting for every generation. Here are a few of my favs... the first one from the year my Mom was born!!!

Seriously... there is absolutely no excuse. People should know better... especially by now!! It just makes no sense to me. I often think... "how would these litterbugs feel about me walking into their home and throwing my trash on their floor??" Hmmm...

I'll go ahead and say what my daughter has been singing for the past few weeks, "What do you do with a litter critter? What do you do with a litter critter? Hey 'Ho! You teach them better. Hey Ho! You teach them better."

Besides us, only one other person picked up litter... and they wondered where and how we found all that trash! SO... of course.... even not being able to pick up every piece of trash that we saw... we won the $50.

We've decided to donate our winnings to "The Plastic Ocean". Why?? Because I stand behind their work... their efforts... 100%. I met Bonnie (check out her and my friend Jennifer's blog: The Plastic Ocean) a couple of years ago... she's amazing in that she read something about plastics in our oceans (I read it too... and it has been my motivation for picking up litter) and was completely affected by it enough to get involved with the Algalita Foundation and start making a difference. Along with visiting the Great Pacific Garbage Patch...she-- along with my friend, Jennifer-- went to Bermuda last summer to study the impact of plastics in the Sargasso Sea-- did you know that baby sea turtles spend their first years there... safe in the protection of the Sargasm? did you know that it's loaded with trash... mainly plastics? AND did you know that the Sargasso Sea is 1 of 5 major ocean gyres that are collecting our trash... our litter??? Think just because you don't live near the coast...that you don't or can't have an impact?? Remember.... everything is connected... we are ALL connected...

By the way...we're also planning on going back to help with trail clean-ups... no prize included ;)