Friday, August 9, 2013

Think Outside The Bottle

I volunteer my time picking up trash along the parks and trails that I frequent here in Phoenix, and I've got to say - I simply can't understand why so many people feel the need to trash the fragile scenery of our hiking trails? You wouldn't believe the amount of trash I find along the trails.

Can you guess what's the most-littered item of trash that I pick up? Cigarette butts!

Yep, I said cigarette butts. I didn't realize that so many smokers hiked. I've picked up thousands of butts. It's seems counterintuitive for hikers to smoke, but I've even picked up butts located at the summit of mountain trails. Who would have figured? Climbing a mountain to have a smoke. Crazy.

But what really ticks me off is finding discarded plastic bottles along the trails, the type of disposable bottled-water bottles sold at grocery stores. I mean, really, who doesn't have the energy to carry out their empty drinking water bottles? It grates on my nerves.

Disposable water bottles come in a close second to cigarette butts in terms of items littered, but they're the most unsightly (and uncalled for) type of litter. They stick out like a sore thumb in the desert scenery, and just like cigarette butts, they're NOT biodegradable.

I know that it's almost impossible to enforce, but I think disposable water bottles and other types of single-use plastic bottles should be banned from ALL parks and trails. They're ruining the landscape. Right now, only some of the National Parks have banned disposable plastic water bottles, but things could change if we would just think outside of the bottle.

Source: 10 reasons why national parks should buck the bottle


  1. I thought I would share something I do with my zero number of blog readers about hiking shorter trails.

    When I go hiking, I'm not only hiking, but I'm also picking up trash as I hike. Now, I know that you may think that probably sounds like a pain in the ass, but it's really not. Let me explain.

    I bought an extended grabber at Home Depot. You know the kind you see maintenance people use to pick up trash while they're working. It's something similar to this picture. I carry it with me on my hikes.

    I also save all of the plastic grocery bags that I use when I go shopping. They're great for carrying trash while on a hike. I scrunch about 3-4 of them up and keep them in my pockets. They're light, don't take up much room in my pocket, and I hardly even know they're there.

    When I come across discarded trash on the trails, I use the grabber to pick it up. It's easy to reach into bushes while avoiding any possible cactus spines jabbing me. I then pull out a grocery bag from my pocket, and put the trash into it. The bag handles make it easy to carry the trash. Those bags will also hold a lot of trash without becoming uncomfortable to carry.

    Most parks and trails found throughout Phoenix, and other cities, have garbage cans and recycle cans found along the parks and trails, especially near the beginning and ends of the trails. When I'm done hiking and picking up trash, I ties the trash bag handles together and dispose of it into one of those trash cans. Pretty simple.

    I mention this because almost every day someone thanks me for doing what I do, and mentions that they would like to do the same thing when they are hiking. Just think how beautiful our local parks and trails would look if everyone DID do that?

    So, if you happen to stumble across this blog and read this, and now that you know how simple it is to do, what's stopping you?

  2. I'm a reader!!!!! That's a great idea, I don't hike the trails very often but next time I do, I will make it a point to take some bags along. And, yes, water bottles, everyone cool is always carrying one around and they think they're being so healthy and environmental but they are a terrible mess. I do always bring mine back home since we recycle in Phoenix but I doubt that really makes it worthwhile to have them all over.

  3. Gotta get out there and obnoxiously promote yourself like I do.

  4. Hah hah.. with all of it's great photo shots, your blog promotes itself. I'm just some guy with an opinion, but I'm working on participating and writing more often.

    BUT, speaking of bottled water. Like the link in this post points out, it's true that bottled-water corporations have manufactured demand by demonizing tap water.

    Last week I spent a good 3-4 hours one day just picking up trash at Mountain View Park, located in the Sunnyslope area of Phoenix. I don't need to tell anyone who lives around these parts just how hot it was outside (in August).

    Well, I didn't bring any water with me because I planned on only picking up trash for about an hour or so, and after 3 hours I was pretty thirsty. Mountain View Park has a water fountain located between it's restroom facilities, but I found myself negatively thinking about drinking from it.. it had to be hot, gross, contaminated, etc.

    But, my extreme thirst thought otherwise, so I used it. Lo and behold, the water fountain had plenty of water pressure so I didn't have to get my mouth too close to the faucet, the water was ice cold, and even more surprising was that it was some of the best water I've ever tasted.

    Yes, Phoenix tap water. My preconceived notions had nothing to do with reality. That tap water in the park was better than any bottled water that I've ever had. Now I purposely visit that fountain whenever I visit that park. It's like having a secret stash that no on else knows about. ;-)

  5. I know where you're coming from. But you have to look at the bright side. For every two inconsiderate dumb-asses destroying the beauty in their own backyard, there's always that one gracious person sandwiched between them finding treasure in other people's trash, and helping correct the problem.