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Taking Rubbish for a Walk

Zuzana Pallová Jun 2022

I have always liked taking walks; alone, or with my dog. Enjoying the sounds of nature, of my own footsteps, of my dog excitedly barking at anything that moves (or that resembles something which might move some time in the future),- and the sounds of my thoughts quietening. I grew up in a village, and one might be surprised with how much plastic packages, cans, and UFR (unidentified flying rubbish) can be found all around the village and its green areas and forests. And one day, I just decided to pick it up - and that, kids, is how my ‘taking rubbish for a walk’ journey started.

A how-to:

It’s simple. Carry an additional bag (and a pair of gloves) with you when going for a walk, and pick up rubbish from the ground. What you find mostly goes into the mixed waste bins - like dirty and ripped pieces of plastic or cigarette butts but keep in mind that a lot of what you find can be actually recycled (cans, glass bottles).

At first, people looked at me strangely; they actually still do sometimes - especially when I pick up rubbish on my own - but I don’t mind anymore. In a group, it always feels more safe because you don’t feel ‘looked down upon’ alone. However, it’s like going alone to the cinema - once you get over that ‘people look at me funny’ paranoia (because that’s exactly what it is), you don’t overthink it anymore.

Cigarette butts

Feelings of frustration

When you clean an area previously overflowing with rubbish, there comes the satisfaction of a job well done. You feel proud of yourself, happy that you did something good for the environment. But then you come back to the place in a few weeks time and… the area is a mess again. This is the time when people either stop picking up their rubbish, or they reconsider.

“If I’m not doing it for the sake of it being and staying clean, then why do I do it?” you may ask yourself. Well, that can be a tough question to answer because there’s no right or wrong answer - there’s only YOUR answer that applies.

“Others don’t pick up rubbish, neither will I”

Does the above sound familiar to you? And I’m not only talking about rubbish, I’m sure you’ve heard this “others don’t, so neither will I” attitude on more than a few occasions. Maybe you’ve even said that yourself. The thing is this is exactly what keeps the world spinning; people doing little acts of kindness for others, for nature and, ultimately, for themselves.

I can’t say for sure how much rubbish I’ve picked up over the years. I’ve cleaned barren paths, forests, kilometers/miles of roads and even parts of cities. It’s a hobby and a form of meditation for me. Clean environment, clean mind.

Here’s what I’ve learnt:

You won’t change the world by picking up rubbish, at least not on any great scale, but you might change the opinion of someone else - maybe just a passer-by, on people and on the world around them. You might inspire.

Don’t worry. We do give a damn, and we are still out there.