The Cost of Litter

I’ve written before about my mom’s habit of picking up trash and how it has rubbed off on me. I’m not as agro as she is (yet?), but I try to do my part. I find it’s especially hard to ignore garbage when it’s in the street or on the sidewalk in front of my house or when I’m out somewhere in nature surrounded by beauty and wildlife. I feel compelled to pick up trash in nature. I can’t stand it marring the scenery or the thought of it ending up in an animal’s stomach.

This weekend, the fam and I took a hike to St. Mary’s Glacier outside of Idaho Springs. It was so picturesque, but I ran into a stray piece of garbage here and there (mostly wrappers from “convenient” individually-wrapped foods), which I pocketed and threw into the trash when we returned to the parking lot.

It’s hard to ignore garbage when the view looks like this:

Or this:

Or this:

And especially when I look at these two and then see a piece of trash. It’s really hard to look the other way.

Over at One Million Acts of Green, one of the Acts (under Everyday Habits) is Pick Up Garbage. The carbon dioxide reduction of this particular Act is low, but it’s important for many other reasons.

The Cost of Litter

Garbage littering our neighborhoods, waterways, nature areas and more:

  • Creates an eyesore.
  • Creates potential environmental damage.
  • It can be a health hazard to humans and animals.
  • It’s killing marine life.
  • It’s killing animals in the wild and even in a zoo.
  • And it’s costly to humans in the dollars and cents sense of the word too.
  • In the United States, state governments spends millions of dollars (yes, millions) each year picking up garbage.
  • They also drive millions of miles each year to collect that trash. Think of all of the gas that is used to fuel their trucks!

If we all did our part and picked up after ourselves and others — including our DOGS — (and for the love of God, try to stay away from those “convenient” individually-wrapped foods in the first place) we could make a big impact.

If you complete the Pick Up Garbage Act, you’ll be well on your way to completing 3 Acts of Green which will earn you an entry into the 3 to Green Contest where one very lucky winner will receive a $5,000 spending spree at To enter for your chance to win, just register and complete three acts of green! It’s that easy! And for every additional three acts of green you register, you’ll earn another entry. Not only will you get a chance to win some cool green stuff, you will be doing your part to clean up the Earth. Our children and our children’s children will thank you for it someday.

As we were on our hike, I paused by the lake to gaze out at the water where I saw ripples — first tiny, then bigger, and bigger, and bigger — which made me think of the ripple effect.

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. — Scott Adams

Let’s start our own little ripples and see how big they become. 🙂

Disclosure: Rockfish Interactive, in partnership with Cisco, is compensating me for my considerable time on this project. However, my ideas, words, and opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation.

7 thoughts on “The Cost of Litter”

  1. Thank you for this article – and beautiful pictures. I remember my mother used to pick up trash wherever we were. I find myself torn at times between picking it up now – because I know its the right thing to do – and leaving it – because I don’t know what kind of (disease-ridden-I’m-a-germaphobe) trash it is…
    But for my children’s sake – I think they should see me picking up more trash in our environment, out in our shared world, not just recycling in our own house.

  2. When I was small, my older sister started the JA Club. She, my little brother & I all share the same initials & the point of our club was to make the world a better place. We started picking up trash and Ivatill do it all these years later!

  3. Yep, glad it rubbed off on you and, will, hopefully, rub off on my grandchildren also.I am still doing it…can’t stand to see it and will pick plastic bottles and aluminum cans out of trash cans for recycling. If everyone did it, this world would be a very beautiful place. Take latex gloves and a bag with you on your walks. It’s not enough to clean up after yourself, someone has to clean up after the litterbugs, unfortunately. And it’s us!

  4. Thanks for the pictures of St. Mary’s – I grew up in Colorado and miss it!

    My mom has picked up trash on her walks for as long as I’ve known her (and probably longer). 🙂 She found $50 once, and recently found a $5 bill.

    I pick up trash now, too, and my 4 year old son is picking up the habit. The latex gloves are a great idea! Thanks!

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