This year I have walked and worked with many different dogs. Mostly we work outside, taking walks. On those walks it came to my attention how much trash our different paths are filled with, and how many people walk straight past it!
As a biologist I care very deeply about the environment, and how we treat it. I recycle down to the smallest piece of paper and try to be aware of what changes I can do to minimize my impact. Be it bringing reusable bags to the supermarket, saying no to straws in restaurants, as well as try to buy products not wrapped in a million layers of plastic.
Throwing my trash in nature has never been a habit of mine, and in a country such as Sweden (where I live), I find it very shocking that some people would do that, and yet here I am walking along with my dogs, seeing new trash piles on a daily basis. Some might say that it could have been dropped by accident, which is very true but doubtfully in this amount. Others that the birds take it from the trash cans and drops it, which I have also observed and although the crows and magpies are immensely intelligent birds, I find it hard to believe that it is beyond human ability to build a trashcan that cannot be opened by a bird. The rest, well I guess they simply don’t care.
They don’t care that our oceans will soon consist of more plastic then fish. That a whale washes up with a stomach filled with rubbish, a turtle gets a straw stuck in his nose or that we humans now have produced so much waste that tiny little plastic parts has now found their way back to the food that we eat.
I therefor decided to do an experiment – pick up the trash I found on my way, at least 1 piece on each trip, which was not hard, seeing that I did many daily trips and there was plenty of trash to pick up. To my surprise, what I mostly picked up was bottles – soda, beer, lemonade, all of which here in the Nordic countries, can actually be returned to the supermarkets and they will pay you for returning them – that’s right! People are not only polluting nature, they are also throwing away easy money!
I figured that after a couple of trips walking the same paths, the trash would be cleaned up (There is a limit to how much 1 person can carry in one go), but to my disappointment new trash was instead replaced by the old one. What started as an experiment has therefor now become a daily routine, but let me tell you this – not only do I help the environment in whatever small way I can, my beloved dogs and I also get a clean path to walk on while earning money.
In a month I can in average collect between 300-500 bottles – that gives me 300-500 SEK (app. 30-50 dollars), which might not seem like a lot of money for some, but for me I view the parks “bottle collectors” in a whole new way 😉
So my challenge to you is – Pick up 1 piece of trash per day and make your small mark on the environment! (who knows what kind of money you can make 😉 )