It’s finally spring outside, and you can start to see the signs all around you. Go for a stroll and look for trees beginning to bud, flowers starting to poke out from the ground and garbage blowing the in the breeze.
Wait! Hold on. Is that really garbage along the trails and in the trees? It sure is. So, let’s celebrate Earth Month by pliking.
Pliking is a term created from the Swedish term “plokka upp,” a combination of the word meaning “pick up” and the word “hiking” or “biking.” So, while you’re hiking, pick up the trash you see! Bring a garbage bag and some gloves so you don’t have to touch the garbage with your bare hands. Have some hand sanitizer handy for afterward.
It may seem like the trash left along the trails is no big deal, but that isn’t true. Animals may mistake it for food, especially if it is a fast-food container or wrapper. Most litter these days is plastic, and it will never break down. That means an animal’s stomach may be full, but they won’t be getting any nutrients.
Some animals may use the litter for their nests. That might seem like a good solution, but these pieces are typically weaker and more likely to break than the natural materials they use. Nests could split, and eggs or young will be exposed to the cold or, worse, to predators.
You may be tempted to walk by and let someone else worry about the trash along the trails. After all, you didn’t put it there! Try thinking of it as your gift to the people behind you on the trails. When you plike, you are making a difference for your fellow hikers or bikers and all of nature.
As you enjoy your favorite trail — or a new one — you are also giving a positive experience to everyone else. Chances are you’ll inspire them to make a difference too!
Garbage cans can be found in every parking lot in our forest preserves and along many trails and walkways, so make sure the litter finds its way there at the end of your adventure. That way you don’t even have to worry about taking it home. Happy Earth Month!
Follow Willy's Wilderness on Facebook for more kid-friendly nature stories and activities.