One loaded bag of trash. 45 minutes of walking. I’ve made it a New Year’s resolution of mine (or for a better word “goal” – I find New Year’s resolutions rarely stick) to go around my neighbourhood at least once a week and collect up some of the rubbish I find there.
My first ever trash walk collection – these were the only items I managed to salvage to recycle, the rest I needed to put in the bin.
I’ve been volunteering with cleanup groups around Sydney and helping clean up trash on beaches, around lakes, etc. with them, but I wanted to go one step further and do it more often, as I’m someone who truly believes that “every little bit helps!” So, I incorporated the #take3forthesea idea into my daily (or weekly) walks and began picking up at least 3 pieces of rubbish on my way round. This grew of course, until I started bringing a giant bag with me out on my strolls to fill by the time I got back.
I reused the bricks for garden beds around my home, I cleaned, washed, and dried the soft plastics to recycle at REDcycle, and popped the bottle, aluminium can and plastic container in the recycling bin after cleaning and drying them too. The other items of trash I unfortunately couldn’t salvage, so I placed them in the bin.
Now, I live in a ‘cared for’ neighbourhood, so when I started out collecting trash, I naively thought that there honestly wouldn’t be all that much rubbish to pick up. I was very much mistaken. It’s been about a month now since I started, and have I got it all? Not even close. But I come back from my walks feeling better at the thought that at least the trash is out of our waterways and ecosystems and actually in the bin where it belongs.
The creek where I first started collecting trash on my walks. It looks deceivingly clean, but once you start looking closely for rubbish, you begin to spot all the different trash items lying around. This was where I collected bricks, bottles, and plastic bags from!
Now, I understand that when rubbish ends up in the bin, it doesn’t just vanish into thin air and we’re done with it. I know it gets carted off to landfill (if not recyclable) and gets disposed of there. But the journey doesn’t seem to end at the dump. We appear to be seeing more and more trash, plastics, and other forms of rubbish ending up in our waterways where they eventually make their way into the ocean. And this has become a big problem, especially when it comes to microplastics.
Picture from Medical News Today – Microplastics in our waterways.
So, coming back to my trash walking. This is a big reason/motivator as to why I’ve switched to using as many reusables as possible, to help reduce the amount of waste I generate and live more of a zero waste(ish) lifestyle (I’m not completely there yet, but I have improved a heck of a lot since last year! #alwayslookatthebrightside 😉). And again, every little bit of trash out of our ecosystems helps!
One of my reusable hauls – (from left to right): some reusable tea bags, a reusable stainless steel container, a stainless steel drink bottle, a reusable glass bubble tea drinking cup & straw, another drink bottle (this one filters out parasites, bacteria & microplastics from the water as you drink it). I’ll be sharing a review post about these products soon!
So yes. I’ve become one of the ‘weirdos’ who picks up litter…. for the fun of it! (who would’ve thought?). If you want to join the bandwagon and collect rubbish in your area, even if it’s just picking up one piece of trash you see while you’re out and about (it’ll make you the coolest kid in town – at least in my books, anyway 😉), I strongly suggest wearing gloves – even if they’re not plastic, maybe even rubber gloves! – cause, you know… people are nasty.
One of the huge bonuses I’ve found with collecting rubbish from around my local area is that I can separate it into categories and recycle some of the items I find!! On my first trash walk (pictured above) I was able to recycle some items like the plastic bottle, aluminium can, and some of those soft plastics (after cleaning & drying them first), but mostly it was just packaging from fast foods, bits of old plastic bags, broken glass, a few receipts, straws, and a few other bits and bobs that weren’t salvageable 😔. The strangest thing I found on that walk was an old shoe (how does one lose a shoe – like just one shoe? Not even both – I don’t know 😂 Surely you’d notice it was gone when you left the house with two, and only came back with one?). The bricks I collected I plan on using to make another raised garden bed, like I’ve done in the past when building up new areas of our garden for planting veggies and herbs!
One of our garden beds at home – This is our herb garden where we’ve created a raised garden bed out of old bricks we had lying around at home. I plan on using the bricks I’ve collected from my walks to make another one with.
I hope you found this helpful in some way, and if you have any tips yourself on separating trash items for recycling, please share them with all of us in the comments below! We’d all (especially me) love to hear them!!
Also, also! Let me know if you’ve participated in one of those beach cleanups or other cleanup day events! What was your experience?
If you have any questions or would like to chat, feel free to DM me on Instagram @simplynaturalnessa.
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Lots of love,