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The Bring A Bag Challenge

A few months ago we started advocating more openly for something we’re calling the Bring a Bag Challenge. It’s a simple thing lots of good folks have been doing for a while and that we do every time we end up on the trail or at the river. We simply bring a bag and pick up trash on the way back to our car. Unfortunately those of you who do this or some variant of it when you’re out in the woods have to pick up the slack for the bad apples among us.

Setting things right in the wild really is a whole lot more complicated and nuanced than picking up a few pieces of trash and patting ourselves on the back. Big issues affecting North Georgia and lots of wild places are oftentimes way more complex than picking up litter. Things like land management, sustainable economic growth, and over-development’s impact on the ecology are part of a larger problem. But at the end of the day we believe we have to put more back into the places that we love than we take out of them. And the Bring a Bag Challenge is a very small part of the solution we’d like you to consider when out in North Georgia.

When you are checking out our site for good places to visit, you may begin seeing the badge below. It’s a gentle reminder to us all to try and find a way to help us set things right when others do short and long term damage.

Last week, Kristen Mullis, a campus rep for UGA voluntarily wrote a nice little piece on her personal blog about the Bring A Bag Challenge and what it means to her. We thought her words might be a fitting way for us to explain what the challenge is all about. Thanks for sharing it with us Kristen and be sure to check out her blog that she’s getting started! This post originally appeared on Kristen’s website.

The super cool people over at Wander North Georgia started The Bring a Bag Challenge. It was recently brought to my attention, and is what inspired me to write this blog. If you don’t already know who Wander North Georgia is, check them out on their Facebook page, Instagram, or website. In short, they are great people, with a great brand, changing the way people view the outdoors one extremely soft shirt at a time. On each blog that they write about various hikes, they post the graphic:

I’m going to go an a rant for a second, but I hate litter. I hate seeing trash on the side of the road, and I loathe seeing litter on the trail. I cannot seem to fathom ANY reason under ANY circumstances throw a piece of trash on the ground. Maybe that’s a little harsh but I don’t understand why would anyone want to tarnish the beautiful Earth we call home.

Here are some common items that are left behind at campsites or found on the trail and their decomposition rates:

  • Paper Waste: 2-6 weeks
  • Cigarette Butts: 10-12 yrs
  • Plastic Bottles: 450 yrs or more
  • Plastic Bag: 10-1000 yrs
  • Aluminum Can: 80-200 yrs
  • Sanitary Wipes: 500-800 yrs
  • Glass: Millions of years
  • Styrofoam: Not biodegradable

I like to live by the popular phrase “Leave No Trace,” and I do not take it lightly. But sometimes leaving no trace is not enough. Unfortunately, there are people who apparently do not cherish the beauty of nature the way that we do. I’m sure whoever left it there thought “it’s just one piece of trash, it wont hurt anything.” But that is so far from the truth, I could write a 20+ page essay explaining effects that litter has on the environment. If you are curious, I will be writing a follow up blog with various facts about litter and the impact that it has on the environment.

On a small scale, I love the Northeast Georgia Mountains that I call my home. And I want others to be able to enjoy and appreciate all the beauty that North Georgia has to offer. On a larger scale, Earth is not just our home, it is our only home. There is no Planet B. This is the only one we have, and it is our responsibility as a human race to take care of it.

Although we may not know each other, I am asking you for a huge favor, to take part in The Bring a Bag Challenge. It’s really easy, all you have to do is pack a small bag with you in your backpack. On the way back to your car, simply pick up the trash that others so carelessly left behind. I know that this is a lot to ask since you didn’t leave it there, and it’s not your responsibility to clean up after others. But as a human race, it is our responsibility to take care of our planet. I understand if this is something that you may not want to participate it, but I do thank you in advance for at least considering it.

If you decide to take part in The Bring a Bag Challenge, I would love to hear about your experiences! Use the hashtags #bringabagchallenge and #wandernorthga.

kristen_bringabagMaybe after all of this you’re thinking, “I am just one person, how could I possibly make a difference.” I would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes of all time:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules . . . You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things . . . they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

– Steve Jobs

I hope this finds you well,