What's Up, West Trashley?

I love my neighborhood, I love this town, and I'm proud to own a home here! But I've been looking at it a little differently ever since our Pisgah Forest litter pick up. Holy crap, there is a lot of litter. It's freaking EVERYWHERE. And in fact, there is trash all over most the streets of Charleston, once you start noticing it. We can be a trashy lot in this town, litter-ally. (Puns for the win!) Because this blog is on my mind lately, I can't stop noticing it. It's annoying.

Shortly after we got back from Asheville, I was walking my floofer, and he took a giant dump. Next to a discarded beer can.

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I should really pick that up, but it's so disgusting, I thought... WHILE HOLDING A LITERAL BAG OF POOP IN MY HAND. Wow. Ok. So culturally, picking up a giant fresh turd with a thin plastic bag = ok, though not anyone's favorite part of pet ownership. Picking up a discarded Evian bottle or Natty Light can = grosssssssssss. This is ass backwards, y'all. (Ok ok, I'll stop with the puns.)

Thus was born an idea: for the next seven days, when I walked Gatz in the morning - usually 5-6 blocks - I took a plastic bag with me and picked up whatever litter was on our route. Usually while making a ridiculous grossed out face.

Here's how much trash that added up to in 7 days:



Both impressive and horrifying, right?

Here's how much of that trash was recyclable (left):



It's worth mentioning that I live in a reasonably nice neighborhood, too. It's not exactly college kids or right off a freeway or something. And while I didn't take the exact same route every day, I did repeat blocks often from day to day.

Here's how much of that trash was food/beverage related (left and middle):

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Some serious food for thought there, huh?

So, I've made a habit of it. Everyday when I walk my dog, I take an extra bag. Sadly, most days it comes back with me full of other people's garbage. 

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Do I like picking up weird crap off the sidewalk? NO. I still make a face.


Did my boyfriend threaten to buy me an orange vest? Yes. 

Did I ask if waste removal jobs come with health insurance? Absolutely. (Freelance photography does not, btw.)

Am I concerned my recycling man will think I have horrific taste in beer? Very much so. But are these factors more important than getting garbage, plastic, and aluminum out of our waterways, off the streets where your kids play, and off our lawns? No.

It's worth mentioning that visible litter in your area can decrease the perceived value of our homes by approximately 10-24%.

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And the average American generated an alarming 4.4 pounds of trash per day in 2013.

via EPA MSW archives

Picking it up is a start. Putting it where it belongs and separating out the recyclables is better. 

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Where it goes from here,,

I have no idea.


I'm just starting this journey, and I'm just one spunky brunette, trying to learn to do the right thing. I have a loooong way to go. I will say that the more I've shared this project and this blog with friends and acquaintances, the more people have had ideas and eco-friendly life hacks of their own to share. It's so inspiring! 

And guess what? On yesterday's walk, I ran into a father and son on my street, each carrying their own bag filled with recyclables. Apparently once a week, the two of them walk and pick up Magnolia Road and yesterday they just took a different route and our paths crossed. Guess I'm tardy to the party after all. How cool! 

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