Many of us remember those glorious litter-free days before we became a disposable society. Now we see single-use low-density polyethylene plastic bags cluttering the landscape snagged on fences and trees everywhere. First introduced to the US in 1977, by 2012 90% of all groceries were bagged in plastic per the Associated Press. The Sierra Club estimates 380 billion plastic bags are used in the US every year (1,200 bags per person!) requiring 12 million barrels of oil to produce.
“Leave No Trace” educational programs began in the 1960s when hiking, camping & backpacking became so popular public land was being “loved to death”. Education was needed to minimize their impact. In the early 70’s, The Boy Scouts of America started advocating Leave No Trace’s seven principals – “Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Other Visitors”. National & State Parks, Wilderness Areas, and National Forests have all benefited from these principals.
Words always seem to fall short when I attempt to articulate what hiking means to me. Of all leisurely pursuits, hiking has always been my activity of choice. In lone pursuit at a very young age, I continually wandered beyond the boundaries of our farm in pursuit of trees and creeks. This was no small task as I was surrounded by crops and my legs were much shorter then! I finally discovered a pristine creek in the woods where I spent hours enthralled with minnow filled pools along with the sounds and sights of water trickling over and through the rocks. My parents and family weren’t into camping or hiking. Someway I pursued those adventures anyway – perhaps nature chose me.
My favorite thing about winter is Soup. While I’m generally not a big fan of being cold, at least with soup, I finally feel warm on the inside and out and secure energy needed to brave the cold. Once satiated, my slurps slow down and my gaze shifts, as I admire the birds feasting on the banquet we have provided them on our deck.
One January, we were chilled to the bone so we hit the road, heading south. Always aware of the environment, here are my sightings.
Our Mississippi State Park campground was absolutely beautiful but there were no recycling bins. Anti-litter signs are prevalent – “Pick It Up Mississippi” along roadways and “Adopt-A-Highway America” along the Interstates. It appears these signs are effective, as we didn’t notice much roadside litter. As for local cuisine, I wasn’t much interested in fried chicken on top of waffles, boiled peanuts, or fried pies but I was glad to see the produce stands emerge as we traveled further south. Overall, Mississippi is quite beautiful. Much of the land is sparsely populated and filled with healthy forests. While logging does occur, we didn’t notice clear-cutting scars.
If you pick up litter or notice the sidewalks, streets and yards during your strolls around town, I imagine you agree – Cigarette Butts and cigarette packaging are quite prevalent. Unfortunately, discarded cigarette butts aren’t only unsightly, they are a fire risk and toxic for the environment! The picture above is what I captured after meeting my goal of “1000 Less”!