Pay it forward…

While microplastics may be too small to spot, we can easily see the big pieces of refuse that are an eye sore to our shared outdoor spaces.

Nothing gets my goat like a pile of food wrappers on the beach as I’m heading in from a surf session. I used to look in disgust and ask myself “what’s wrong with people?” as I walked by, disappointed in humanity.

While it still disappoints me, I’ve changed my perspective a bit. A few years ago I started picking up the trash I saw on my way in from surfing so I wouldn’t see it the next time I went out. Over time I realized this simple action not only cleaned up the beach one small bit at a time, but it actually changed my entire outlook on the situation.

Now, instead of having a bad taste in my mouth from the people who at the beach before me, I think instead about the people who are behind me. I break the chain and try to make the beach a better experience for those who will arrive after me.

Simply: If you leave a place cleaner that when you found it, we’ll always be improving.

The new litter philosophy

When you pick up even a few pieces of trash in a public space you will accomplish two things (apart from making that space cleaner):

  1. You’ll make someone else’s day better. The next person that walks the path you’re on won’t have to have that same wtf feeling you had, because the trash won’t be there for them to see. Even though they don’t know it, you’re making their day better and you should feel good about that.
  2. When someone else does see you picking up trash that isn’t yours, they’ll be inspired. It’s so refreshing to see someone go out of their way to improve our shared outdoor spaces. It makes my day better just seeing that and it inspires me to pay it forward too.


Your Action Item

Change your perspective and pick up a new habit. Instead of snickering at a piece of litter on the beach or on a trail, pick it up. Try it a few times and see how this changes your perspective and how it influences others.


Pick up good habits:

[mc4wp_form id=”747″]


Everyday Environmentalist

Some more inspiration for you from the NRDC blog.

10 Reasons to Pick Up 10 Pieces of Trash

The 10 pieces movement!

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment