Words by Tom Hill. Image by Sam Dugon.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the ‘big picture’ recently. Whether that’s our own aims for the coming years, or a deeper dive into the social history of litter and reframing how we think about it (spoiler alert: it’s pollution and the issue is far greater than just those dropping it).
We’ve talked about these issues because they are important; and getting to the root of them is fundamental if we are to affect true, long term change. Here’s the thing about long term change though. It takes a while. It’s hard. There are plenty of false starts and wrong turns. And tangible wins are hard to come by; tomorrow will probably look and feel the same as today and yesterday. Next year, or next decade however… that’s where the big wins are.
What do we do in the meantime though? Well, in the meantime, we go back to our roots. Trash Free Trails was founded on action; simple, deliberate action. Acts of care to counter the countless acts of vandalism on our wild and green spaces. A trail clean isn’t about changing the whole world, but that isn’t the point. Whether it is five minutes, or five hours of work; a solo or collective effort; you can be absolutely certain that a trail clean will change your part of the world for the better. Ridding a trail or woods of single-use pollution isn’t just a cosmetic act; you are removing environmentally damaging plastics and leaving a positive trace on a location that brings you and others joy. Oh, and as a bonus, never underestimate the sense of wellbeing that your hard work brings.
That’s why the Spring Trail Clean has been a mainstay in the Trash Free Trails calendar for almost as long as we have existed. Like a bookmark, or folded-over corner in a well loved story, we keep returning to it. The STC marks a reminder of why we exist; and the positive impact that every one of us can have.
For those of you that have taken part, or organised your own Spring Trail Clean in the past, you’ll be glad to know that the format for 2023 is broadly as it ever has been. If you are new to TFT, or haven’t taken part in a trail clean before, or maybe feel inspired to go a step further and organise your own, we’ve got the basic details below, and loads of links to help you out.
Earth Day Spring Clean
Rather nicely, Earth Day is scheduled to take place on April 22nd. Earth Day is all about celebrating the planet we live on and expanding our awareness of the ways we can protect it. And we thought what better way to mark the day than with a trail clean. So, we are asking as many of our amazing TrashMOB as possible to get out there on, before or around Earth Day; bringing together trail (and park and woods and beach and…) cleans from across the globe to not just mark a day, but to highlight the power of community to reconnect people with nature while protecting the places we love.
For some of you, that’s probably all you need to know. But we love that more and more people are discovering Trash Free Trails all the time, and would like to find out exactly how you can help.
We have how-to guides for conducting a trail clean, and extra information if you’d like to plan, promote and host your own event as well. The good news is, it’s not at all complicated. With your passion and a little bit of organisation, great things will happen.
Don’t forget that every little effort helps. If all you can manage is to bring a spare bag with you on your next ride, run or roam and top that up with any litter you find on the way… brilliant! If you can devote some time to take a bit of a deeper dive (hopefully not literally) and spend an afternoon specifically focused on a trail clean, even better. You never know; someone locally might already have a trail clean planned. Why not join in and potentially make some new buddies at the same time? If there are no organised trail cleans near you, then maybe you have what it takes to step up and bring together your community. Don’t forget, we are here to give you a hand.
Just remember that whatever your personal Earth Day Spring Clean looks like, you will have made a difference and left your own positive trace.