Welcome to the "Away Project"
Over the past couple of years, some of my photography friends and I have noticed a staggering amount of litter accumulating at all of our favorite places. We want to do something about it by taking positive action while increasing awareness.
A large amount of this litter consists of single-use plastics, things that are meant to be thrown "away". We started think about AWAY, and it's starting to feel like "away" is EVERYWHERE!
When I first decided to take action I thought it would be best to simply lead by example and tackle the issue head-on. Not a lot of need to start out with pointing fingers and trying to place the blame. The litter is out there, I don't know exactly how it got there and I don't know exactly who released it into the wild, but it's out there now and it's accumulating rapidly.
That's why I am taking this issue on as a personal mission. I've already started picking it up piece-by-piece while I'm out shooting photos, hiking, or otherwise enjoying the outdoors. While I share this journey with you I hope that it will inspire you to join me in this cause!
Simple Steps to Start:
Here is a little run down of how I'm approaching the litter problem. For now the idea is to simply take a stand and pitch in to help remove some of this rubbish, but as you will see in step 4, I believe that litter is deeply connected to many other environmental concerns. It's time to start raising awareness to just how big of a problem litter has become.
So far the response has been very positive, and we will continue to broaden our knowledge. We will also be looking for new ways to make an impact in the future beyond just picking up litter. Here are a few steps to get us started, we don't need to fix all of the world's problems today.
Step 1: See the situation yourself
We can all step outside of our homes and touch a piece of litter within a few minutes, if not seconds. Litter is not an abstract or theoretical problem, it isn't a headline or documentary from a far away land, and it's not a question of left-right politics. For every large piece along the highway there are millions of tiny micro pieces mixed into the dirt, grass, rocks, etc.
While we were picking up trash at Middle Creek people had a look of amazement on their faces when they would see us with an entire bag of trash coming out of what looks like a very natural environment. But how often do we actually stop to poke around and look in the brush?
WARNING: Once you see it, it's hard to stop
Step 2: Start With Simple Actions
Once the problem comes into focus it becomes hard to ignore. There is so much litter around it may feel overwhelming. While overcoming this problem is going to take a lot of action by a lot of people, you can start right now with simple actions.
Get yourself some gloves, a grabber, and a 5 gallon bucket with a lid (alternately you could get different reusable receptacle, or at the very least biodegradable bags). Set aside a day or more each week to pick up some litter while enjoying your favorite outdoor places. Take it home, sort out the recyclables, and add it to your residential trash. No need to tackle the whole problem at once.
We're currently working on securing a supply of 5 gallon buckets for those interested in joining our Bucket Brigade crew (coming soon). In the meantime many local stores have buckets that can be spared from our landfills, just ask around.
Simple actions like this not only attack the litter problem piece-by-piece, but they also set a positive example for others to take action. Be the change you want to see in society, and lead by example today!
Together we will find our way!
I have had the wonderful opportunity to build some cherished friendships with complete strangers over the years through my photography. Under all the advertisements, sponsored content, arguing, and #fakenews floating around lies the foundational technology that allows us to connect around topics we care about.
We're going to start basic by using the technology at our fingertips to meet new friends who have the passion to take action on litter. Step 2 is all about you, but Step 3 unites us to work towards finding our way together. Much like the simplicity of our personal commitment step 3 is starting small through organized group cleanup events. We're also communicating with knowledgeable organizations about setting up informational workshops, movie nights, and other events to enjoy and learn together.
Be sure to subscribe to the AWAY blog, and checkout our new Facebook Page and Group using the buttons below. We wanna keep in touch with you about upcoming events and our overall progress. We also want to hear your away stories, so use the #theawayproject hashtag when you post your pictures of litter and taking action!
Litter is just a piece of the puzzle
However, it is a great starting point for encouraging environmental discussion and action. You don't need to be a tree hugging dirt worshipper to want cleaner neighborhoods and parks right? Litter pollution is effecting all of us!
When you begin to notice the litter you quickly recognize how much of it consists of single use plastics. Then you begin to notice how much single use plastic and other disposable items you come into contact with on a daily basis. Then you learn that the amount of fossil fuels used to create water bottles pales in comparison to the amount used to make poly based fabrics.
Vast amounts of resources are being used to make mountains of single use products. Are we sure this is the best use of these resources which take millions of years to create? How do my habits contribute to this growing problem? Where did the stuff in my recycling bin go? They sort my recyclables right?
These are some questions I've been asking myself. Do you know the answers? When I started challenging some of my assumptions I found out just how little I actually knew.
Not So Far Away ...
As litter piles up on land some of it is making it's way to sea. We're hearing more and more of the giant spinning patches of micro-plastics in the five major gyres around the world's oceans. Living inland it's hard to comprehend this problem out in the vastness of the open ocean. However, the problem is hitting closer to home as this issue comes into focus in the Chesapeake Bay.
Water connects all of us from the Mountain Springs, to the creeks and streams. Where the streams meet and create mighty rivers that then flow to the Bays and beyond to the Gulfs and Oceans.Water connects the world.
This time of year the mighty Susquehanna is rising with each passing rainstorm. Head down to the river while the water is high and you'll see litter flowing with the current. Head down after the waters recede and the vegetation along the banks is filled with entangled debris.
It brings the ocean issue closer to home for me. I believe that whatever amount of debris we can keep from loosing to the Susquehanna will benefit others who rely on these waters downstream from us. Allowing this trash to simply drift by seems just as bad as allowing it to get into the river in the first place.
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Hey IGers 👋😁 we’re pumped to be sharing on IG starting, well right now. We look forward to sharing with you and uniting around the cause of litter. Give us a follow and share some of the litter you see out and about using the hashtag #theawayproject! Get creative with it, we’ll repost our favorites!
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