April 22nd, is going to be Earth day 2014, and it is not far away. As people who love the outdoors and spend our days enjoying all that nature offers us, it is a great idea for us to take, at least one day, to give back. Let’s all do something fantastic for our outdoor areas this Earth Day! It doesn’t have to be big and grandiose. It can be something simple but meaningful.
One idea would be to get a group together for a crag clean up. Some of our favorite climbing areas, unfortunately, pick up quite a bit of trash. I truly think a lot of this is not from climbers, however, there definitely is a possibility climbers contribute. Regardless, we can get out there with some trash bags and gloves to pick up the area. Over the winter, the weather can be rough on our climbing areas as well. Trees and branches get knocked over trails, and trails themselves mold into something different. We could help clear out the trails and keep them looking nice for the spring and summer approaches. For those looking to make a really grand gesture, maybe you could get the equipment to remove some of the offensive or annoying to look at graffiti that has been destroying the beautiful rock.
There are areas besides crags that could use a little cleaning up as well. Hiking trails, parking lots to state or national parks, or even the side of roads come to mind. However, one area you might not think of is water. Outdoor sport enthusiasts love water. From kayaking to surfing to rafting to wake boarding, we can do a lot in the water. Unfortunately beaches, river sides, and sometimes even in the water, can get dumped with trash too. There is a river down the street from the house I grew up in. Lots of people use this river for swimming, fishing, and rafting. Then one day I started noticing someone was throwing full trash bags of trash into the river. They would float down the river or due to ice stay in place. I went through the chain of government phone calls until I got to the appropriate department for picking this up and monitoring it. We need to keep our waterways clean as well. A pick up around them could do wonders.
For those who enjoy gardening or have been blessed with a green thumb, planting helps a lot too. It keeps our areas beautiful and rich with oxygen. Try planting some trees, plants or flowers in areas where it is approved or appropriate. I say appropriate due to issues with invasive species in certain areas and all that. So many of our trees get chopped down daily or lost to fires. It may seem small to only be replacing one or two, but it is something and the more people that jump on board, the more we can grow.
Let’s not forget the great power of education! We can teach children and gym climbers looking to move outside access issues. We can find groups or our friends who are new to our outdoor sports and show them how to respect the areas they utilize. There are always classes offered and guides, but many people learn their outdoor sports from more experienced friends. We teach them the basics of the sport and how to be safe, but why not teach them about appropriate ways to act in nature and how to handle some of the things that they may be scared to ask about (like needing to go to the bathroom outside where there is none). The more we can pass on the importance of keeping nature clean and treating it right, the less issues we will have. People just might not think about how their gear is squashing wildlife etc. Let’s make a point to educate.
I’ve heard it said that the more a person feels attached to something and like they are a part of it, the more likely they are to treat it like their own and handle it with respect and care. Many encourage new comers to the sport to come out for a clean up event, etc. This way they will feel a part of it.
This theory could also work for people who are littering and throwing trash. If you go to an area that is already covered in trash, it is likely to feel less harmful to add on to it. Whereas an immaculate area may get at least one or two people to hesitate. Let’s keep areas really nice so people feel less encouragement. Let’s raise our voices to help protect these areas people really hit hard with disrespect. Let’s try to show people how much they mean and how great they can look.
You could get creative. A lot of places, are not on top of recycling. Some of this is due to the lack of recycling receptacles. If I go to a place that has one trash can, I’ll be sad but ultimately will just throw all I need to in it. Some places have areas where there is a trash can for each item. A compost box, a paper box, a plastic box, etc. You could get some artsy people, yourself, or even some kids together to make up some really nice looking boxes and signs to implement better recycling where you work or live. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Recycle boxes or trash can like things you already have. Work places often do have lots of boxes, etc to spare. Make them look fun and cool and put them together. The more detailed the signs the easier. If I am not someone already recycling, I might get confused on what goes where and just throw it all in trash. However, if you think about items most likely to get thrown and put them on the sign, it makes it easy.
For example, I went to a place that had this system and got a cup of tea. I used a wooden stirrer to stir in the sugar. There was a compost box that listed “wooden stirrers” on its list of things that belong in that box. I didn’t have to think. It was easy and fast, therefore, no matter how lazy I was I could do it. We have to remember that not everyone cares, not everyone has the time, not everyone is making this a priority, and not everyone is educated. Those are also the people doing it wrong. We have to suck it up and cater to them as much as possible to make sure we get it done.
Let’s use this earth day to work together and really try to help out nature. Think of all the beautiful things nature shows that blows our minds. Those incredible sunsets, that crazy blue ice, the shimmering of water, the vibrant colors of plants, trees, and flowers. Think of all the fun it provides us with, all the peace and stability, and that feeling of acceptance. Nature does a lot for us and on its own, it is so perfect.
What are some great ideas you have for Earth Day? Anything you’d add?