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Talking trash with an (almost) 8 year old

We're so excited to have a guest blog from Andrea Galen. Andrea works with Phil and got involved early on in our Just1Bag campaign. She's been a phenomenal inspiration, recruiting her whole family to litter pick and motivating her local community to keep their local parks clean.

The blog below can be found on her website:

Thank you so much Andrea! Keep being amazing.

“Is that chewed bubble gum? Gross. We’d better pick that up because if an animal comes across it on the ground and eats it and doesn’t know that you aren’t supposed to swallow gum, they could get sick or die.”

“Is that a cigarette? I’m not touching that. Is it even allowed to smoke here? I think if someone was smoking here it would be bad because then I wouldn’t even enjoy the walk because I’d be trying not to breathe.”

“Do you know what the strongest material is on the planet? Nope, not that. Nope, not that either. You want me to tell you? It’s a kind of spider web. I don’t know if that’s true, but I read it in like three books, so then I researched it and I am pretty sure it’s true.”

“That’s dog poop. I am NOT picking up poop. But it’s not really trash technically, because, you know, the animals can’t help themselves. It’s just what they do. And some animals even eat poop. I read that in a book too.”

“I want to go to the book store after this and get Bad Guys 10. I’ve read 2 through 9. I didn’t read the first one but Mrs. Sabanosh read it to our class. Do you want to know what it’s about? There is Mr. Snake, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Tarantula, and Mr. Shark., and … ”

“It’s good to be picking up trash to keep the planet clean, but it would be better if people just didn’t litter in the first place.”

Yesterday, Sylvie and I went for a nature walk in a local conservation area and decided to join the #Just1Bag2020 movement, a campaign started by an environmentally-conscious and kind-hearted family at the start of the year to make our parks, beaches, forest, neighborhoods a little less filthy by collecting or inspiring others to collect 2020 bags of trash in 2020. They are at 228 bags and counting at the time of this post, with people participating from all over the world.

The family who started this campaign has two children, one called Poppy, and she is Sylvie’s age. Both enjoy writing and illustrating stories. I told Sylvie that this idea was inspired by the girl who also likes to write and draw. Sylvie told me a lot of stories on the trails. “What kind of dog would you get if you got a dog? Aubrey wants to get a small fluffy dog. I kind of want a Chocolate Labrador. And when we grow up and live together, we’ll get each kind of dog. That’s what we plan to do.”

It’s an interesting change in perspective, to be out in the woods looking for the eye sores, rather than avoiding them. In the company of a child filled with such wonder and joy about the world (most of the time), it does make you wonder how anyone would want to disrespect the planet. People who cause pain are the ones in pain. It made me want to get to the source of all that pain and say, breathe… there is beauty here. (And, there is a trash bin just over there, so please keep your gum in your mouth for 5 more minutes.) :-)

I will admit that we could barely fill even one small bag even after completing a full loop; there seemed to be very little trash on the trails. Perhaps someone was out collecting litter earlier in the day. Possibly, the trekkers of this little conservation area in Franklin, MA carry in, carry out more than the average wanderers. Or, maybe I was simply taken in by the trash tales of my little imaginative companion and overlooked the leave-behinds. In collecting other people’s cast-aways, we felt connected to a cause, to nature, and to each other.

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