The Year We Take Out The Trash

by Nick Pione // January - February - March 2022

2022 is here and it’s time for a new set of New Year’s Resolutions. You know, the things we pledge to do differently this year, even though you may not have completed last year’s. No judgment here, as many of us never complete them – and most give up on them after only a couple of months.

But what if there was one resolution that we could all do together – one thing could make our lives, our community, and our planet better? What if that one thing didn’t result in you spending hours at the gym or trying a new diet plan? What if it only took one minute per day, every other day? What could this resolution possibly be?

I’m talking about litter. Yes, litter – that stuff that we see in parking lots, along roadsides, and too often even in our own neighborhoods. If you’re like me, you might be thinking, “But I don’t litter, so why is this such a problem?” And thankfully, most of us don’t. The good news is that since 2009, littering has decreased by over 50%. But even with all that progress, Americans still left 50 billion pieces of litter on the ground last year.

Here are a few statistics to think about:
– 90% of Americans agree that litter is a problem in their state;
– Of the 50 billion pieces of litter, 24 billion are along roadways and 26 billion are along waterways;
– An estimated 207 million PPE items were littered on U.S. roadways and waterways through early fall 2020;
– There are more than 2,000 pieces of litter per mile.

If we can agree that there’s a problem, then we can all be part of the solution. So what can we do to fix this national problem? Before I answer, let’s first talk about from where all this litter comes. Most is the result of carelessness. It blows out of over-stuffed garbage cans or from the back of a truck or boat. And yes, some still comes from people intentionally throwing it on the ground or out the windows of their cars. Crazy, I know; but unfortunately, it’s true.

If littering were to stop today and waste was properly managed, and every American picked up 152 pieces of litter this year, we would have a litter-free nation in 2022. So let’s all make this a New Year’s resolution, and commit to a few simple things:
– If we all pick up just one piece of litter a few times every week, it will all be eliminated. That’s the one minute, every other day.
– Don’t overstuff your garbage can on trash night.
– If you own a pickup truck or boat, don’t allow anyone to put trash in the back to blow away.

There’s one more thing – and this is when we need to help the “litter bugs” among us see the light. Call those litter bugs out – respectfully of course. When you see someone discarding trash on the ground, kindly ask them to pick it up. If they refuse, no need to argue – you just found your one piece of trash to pick up for the day.

In addition to being unsightly, litter and plastics are contaminating our soil, oceans, and harming our planet. We are all affected by this problem and we can all be part of the solution. 2022 can be the year we take out the trash and feel good about finally completing a New Year’s Resolution – one that won’t only benefit ourselves, but our world as well.

Nick Pione

A local business owner, blog writer, and natural wellness expert. He co-founded Trek CBD and contributes to medium.com and trekcbd.com.