As a runner and an Eagle Scout, I truly love the outdoors. Any chance I get to be outside doing something, I do it. It's why my wife and I moved into a house that is very close to the Cuyahoga National Valley. There are great trails throughout the valley system and a lot lightly used roads that meander the hills around it that make for great running. One thing that ruins great places like this: Litter.
It is just unfathomable to me how much trash I litter I see while I'm out running. What kind of person just throws trash out their window while driving? What type of person dumps a ton of trash on the side of the road instead of taking it home or throwing it out in a trash can anywhere? This really grinds my gears, especially when I hear people complain about how much trash runners create at races. I know almost every race I've ever been in either has strict rules about trash and littering or, like the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, does the utmost to have volunteers and staff clean up trash along the race course to ensure the place is cleaner then they found it.
Well, I've had enough. I usually pick up a piece or two of trash when I run. If I am running with a pack I will try to pickup more. Just yesterday (Sunday, March 10th) I picked up 8 pieces of trash while I was running on a road near my house, picture below. The most disheartening part is that I passed up at least 5 times this trash that I could easily see on the side of Riverside Road. This road runs right next to the Cuyahoga National Valley, leads up to a lot of nice houses and is great to run or drive on. Litter left around this area can end up in the Cuyahoga river and eventually make it's way into Lake Erie, both of which require a lot of effort to keep them clean and free of trash. Maybe it just looks worse now since all the snow is melted, but that is no excuse for this type of behavior.
Because of this I'm proposing my own Spring Cleaning Challenge: Collect as much trash as you can while out running, hiking or even walking the dog and share it. Let's clean up our neighborhoods, parks and trails and hopefully guilt the litterers into stopping this horrible behavior. Sure it might only be one can or one piece of plastic, but it's one less that is disposed of properly, won't hurt and animal or cause harm to our environment. If you're feeling really green, recycle it. Here is a list of how much energy recycling can save us by Popular Mechanics that is worth the read.
I'll post picture updates to this blog throughout March and early April to show how much litter I've collected on my runs. You can follow my runs on Strava, if you like to see where I collect it all. Please post your own pictures in the comments and let's see how much of an impact we can all make. If there is one Spring Cleaning Challenge that catches on, I hope this is it.