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Garbage Wars!
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Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
Garbage Wars! on 03/25/2012 02:00:07 MDT Print View

Garbage Wars, a friendly litter patrol competition.

I'm sure that when you go hiking, you pick up others trash along the way (its like Flavor Country where I hike based on how many butts I pick up on an average trek). Some of you may even participate in club cleanup trips and other volunteer work of the conservation ilk. Awesome! Now what if I told you that you could continue to help protect and preserve our natural world, and at the same time, lay down some trash talk on your buddies for having picked up the most garbage last month? Or showing off your trophy at the end of the year as the Andrew Skurka of Litter Patrol?

Well, consider it on fellows!! My father and I went for a stroll today in Cheesequake State Park in New Jersey and collected [U]three household sized garbage bags of litter[/U], plus a flower pot full of litter as well. Most all of it was plastic bottles, but some metal, a football, and even a piece of 2" thick rope. Its amazing the stuff that one finds out there. A Tide bottle. A Sprite can circa 1990s. Four flower pots of different sizes. It never ends sadly. But it also makes me feel good to clean it up, and to hopefully guilt passers by to lend a hand instead of just looking oddly at me. If everyone would just follow Leave No Trace and pick up just one piece of garbage when they hike, the woods would be clean pretty soon.. but why stop at just one piece? :)

I'd like to invite everyone here and anywhere and everywhere to participate. My intent with this is to create some friendly competition amongst outdoor enthusiasts of all walks, while letting nature reap all the benefits of our hard and much needed work. Lets get out there and make our planet shine! I didn't have my pocket digi with me today, but from now on I will post pictures to give everyone a push, and I hope you all will too. Whoever collects the most at the end of each month will get a gold sticker in the mail from me!!!!

For practical purposes, gloves are never a bad idea. Thicker garbage bags are best. And make sure you speak with a Ranger or other park employee as to where to leave the garbage once you have collected it. My dad and I brought ours home to recycle, but your park may have recycling dumpsters on site.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Garbage Wars! on 03/25/2012 02:23:07 MDT Print View

I don't think most people want to pack out trash, but I have gone to certain areas with the intent of cleaning up.
A more practical option is to dig a ditch, burn it all, and bury it. However, some people might be concerned when they see a giant pillar of black smoke.

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
re on 03/25/2012 02:49:36 MDT Print View

I dont think its practical to burn plastic bottles. And boo hoo, you lightweighters are too weak to carry some trash? Part of enjoying the wilderness is accepting the fact that most people are the litterers, but if you truly care about the land, you should be more than willing to pitch in. Look at it as a workout, some extra exercise never hurt anybody!

Besides, you do pack out your own trash right? Whats the difference between yours and what someone else left behind? Its all part of the same problem. Lets all help fix it.

Edited by gregpphoto on 03/25/2012 02:53:47 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
A trail of gears on 03/25/2012 06:31:18 MDT Print View

Saturday I did a trail run up the AT to Cooper Gap and back. This time of year is when the overloaded AT thru hikers begin their adventure, a few of them shedding gear on the first couple of ascents. On my return leg my little pack was soon filled with a bag of garbage and I carried out a Coleman Hatchet and a bag that had a Bearvault Canister and a cookset along with a coil of 1/2" rope to hang food. The good news..... at least I can sell the bearvault.

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
re on 03/25/2012 10:11:39 MDT Print View

See, look at the rewards! Help clean up and you might find a bear canister! Thanks for your effort and support, Greg.

John McAlpine
(HairlessApe) - M

Locale: PNW
Brings Back ab Ugly Memory on 03/26/2012 12:09:38 MDT Print View


Your post has brought back memories of a 'garbage' mess from a few decades ago. I was hiking alone near Seattle's Snoqualmie Pass about 30 years back. I came upon the back lake I was planning to crash at. I don't remember the name of the lake now. On the far bank near the campsites I came upon a full industrial sized garbage bag. Some large group was kind enough to gather all their garbage, but no one appeared to be willing to carry it out. When I woke up in the morning I'd found I way to strap it to my pack...don't remember anymore how....but I lugged this mess out that day and to a garbage can at the trailhead. I was mad the entire hike out and told everyone I passed what I found. I got loads of pats on the back for carrying out the entire bag.
It did make me feel good!

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Garbage Wars! on 03/26/2012 12:55:38 MDT Print View

Unrelated to backpacking: As a trail patrol volunteer, it seems I always leave a hike or bike ride with someone else's trash. Most recently, the sole of a shoe. That's right, just the rubber bottom of a tennis shoe... I seem to haul out my worst loads of trash when I go fishing. Always seem to show up with an empty backpack and leave with a full one.

As far as backpacking goes though, the most I've picked up is the odd corner of a candy bar wrapper. I don't seem to find much trash beyond a couple miles from road access.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Trashmen on 03/26/2012 13:14:24 MDT Print View

Gregory, you have us at a disadvantage, living in New Jersey and all.
When I pick up trash on the trail, I grumble about it. Glad to see someone who can actually enjoy picking up trash.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Garbage Wars! on 03/26/2012 14:22:09 MDT Print View

It depends on the circumstances. If it's the first day of a week-long backpack, I probably won't pick up anything heavy, although I will pick up candy wrappers. However, I find amazingly little trash a long way from the trailhead. It's the places only a 2-3 miles from the trailhead--the places I take my young grandkids to--that have the most trash, and I do carry that out! Of course I enlist my grandkids in the trash pickup!

I always carry a trash bag on dayhikes and come out with more than I took in. This is particularly true in the Columbia River Gorge, where I do most of my dayhiking because I live so close. The main offenders are candy wrappers, orange peels and the ubiquitous filter tips from cigarettes.

I had an experience similar to John's at Shi-Shi Beach in Olympic National Park. We arrived at a campsite to find that previous users had carefully bagged their trash, stuck it into a hollow log and left it there. It went back out in my pack, while I fumed.

Edited by hikinggranny on 03/26/2012 14:26:44 MDT.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Garbage Wars on 03/26/2012 14:42:42 MDT Print View

I do a lot of trips with some of the "Litehiker" VWRs (Volunteer Wilderness Rangers) in my local National Forest. One of the advantages of going light, is we have plenty of room to pack out trash we find along the way. More often than not, one of us ends up carrying out a trash bag of accumulated debris from the duration of the trip.

KC with a just about full bag of trash collected over the course of a recent overnighter.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Man... on 03/26/2012 16:43:32 MDT Print View

Wow, I think some of you might need to find new places to hike/pack. A full garbage bag? Dang. Good on you for packing it out, but that's like hiking through a landfill.
I went on a morning hike today and only found/packed out a snickers wrapper, a syrofoam convenience store cup, and a 1L Coke bottle. Too bad the bottle was missing the cap, or I'd have kept it to drink from. Kidding. Kind of.

I'm still pondering how a Thirstbuster cup got 2 ridges over, and 5 miles from the trailhead.