Cleaning trash ‘carries a bit of the willful excitement of vandalism’

Trash recovered from the James River in RichmondRichmond Times-Dispatch outdoor columnist Andy Thompson has taken ownership of the James River Park. I wrote this past summer about how I had taken ownership of Pony Pasture and often go to the river for walks with my trusty bucket to snag any trash or recycling that I see. Andy had some great notes in his column and showed off his vast outdoors library:

Humans being what we are, litter always will be with us. That’s not to say I celebrate its existence, just that I know that removing it might be the single easiest way to make the world more beautiful and is, to boot, a darn good excuse for a walk in the woods.

In “Keeping America’s Trees Safe From Small-Curd Bubble Wrap,” author Ian Frazier detailed his weeklong journey with friends along the Mississippi River removing plastic bags and other refuse from trees.

Writes Frazier: “As a companionable outdoor pastime, bagging is ideal. It carries a bit of the willful excitement of vandalism, yet is its opposite. It lets you go places where people would otherwise stop you. . . . It establishes small pieces of the country – the particular places where you have snagged bags – firmly in your mind. You feel differently about a place once you have snagged there. And when you take a big piece of plastic from a tree, you affect the look of the landscape in a dramatic way.”

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2 responses to “Cleaning trash ‘carries a bit of the willful excitement of vandalism’

  1. Sounds good.

    Does this mean we can get some editorials in the Times Dispatch about ridding our society of plastic bags (and in the process, energy conservation)?

  2. Thanks Andy, for putting the perfect words to the never-ending job of keeping the JRP clean of all kinds of trash. It is satisfying to walk along trash-free trails and sometimes maybe others are inspired to carry a bag and help with the task.
    It doesn’t cost anything and it is good exercise.

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