Walk for Trash


That’s right, walk for trash. We walk for autism, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other causes yet we are missing an opportunity. What if we picked up trash as we walked? It may sound crazy but think of the benefits. It could be a catalyst for shifting our understanding of individual and communal responsibility.  

There is a sense of nobility in working for a cause. It’s as if the experience recalibrates our minds and we want to do better and be better. We want to make a difference and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Yet there is a gap between the feelings brought on by helping those who, for the most part, experience suffering by no fault of their own and the feelings we have about picking up trash others have left behind.

What causes us to segregate our sense of responsibility and charity? Can we transcend this gap and bring those same kind of noble feelings with us as we pick up trash? Can we take our sacrifice to the next level, do the uncomfortable, and clean up the messes others left behind? I believe we can.

Maybe it’s the Boy Scout in me; I cannot find a valid excuse for littering. Equally foreign is the idea that it is someone else’s responsibility to clean up.  What will happen if just one person takes a pair of gloves and a few trash bags to the next walk and cleans up along the way? What if it’s two people the next time, then ten people, then fifty, then one hundred? What difference will the one have made for the other ninety nine? What if walk organizers picked roads that need work? How would this increase our sense of ownership for the roadways we clean? How could this small individually driven challenge shift our culture of responsibility and conservancy?

The answers to these questions are too valuable to ignore.

3 thoughts on “Walk for Trash

  1. Hey Matthew,

    Nice blog! I think you are totally spot on with the walk-for-trash idea. We not only need to pick up the trash, we need to analyze it to see what we are throwing away as waste. Several months ago, I dressed up in a business suit and wandering around Piedmont Park, picking up trash. The people were amazed to see some who was not a janitor stooping over and picking up garbage with their bare hands. Admittedly, I was staging a performance, but I learned more than I said. I began to see patterns of litter. I began to link together our habits of consumption. It became clear how much we treat our environment and its resources as infinitely disposable and infinitely renewable. But this is a fantasy. Perhaps in our lifetime, we can loot and plunder, willy-nilly, and get away with it, but our children and grandchildren, and their grandchildren, will not have this luxury. What we do now will decide their future. So great post Matthew! I look forward to the next one.

  2. What an amazing experiment, Will. If only you had taped the word “responsibility” to you back; then it would have been performance art.

    It reminds me of the re-birth of Earth Day celebration in Piedmont Park in 1990. The traffic around the park was bumper to bumper and mounds of trash surrounded every trash can. It was clear to me then that we had missed the point. The sounds of rock n’ roll and the excitement of a day long party crowded out the message of personal responsibility.

    It was a great time but we made a lot of brown in the name of green.

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