Assateague Island

July 6, 2010 by Post Team 

Assateague IslandAssateague Island:When most people see a fast food bag fluttering in the corner of the road, is likely to shake their heads and continue driving.

The Pick Up Artists are not most people. These four young environmentalists are driving across the country, carrying out cleaning the road and spread the word about waste reduction.

After only three months on the road, the Pick Up America project has already collected more than 37,000 pounds of trash. And it is only 340 miles on their two-year, cross-country trip.

The project began March 20 at Assateague Island, Md. Her goal is to reach its final destination, San Francisco Bay, California, around August 2011.

The team knew what they were getting into when he began his search, but the amount of trash found and surprised. “I had no idea that there was not much trash there,” says Kelly Klein, director of Pick Up U.S. outreach. “That was a big surprise for me.”

Most of the trash is what you’d expect: beer bottles, soda cans, cigarette packets and fast food wrappers. “We can say what the most popular beers and restaurants are found in every area,” says Klein. There are also plastic bags – lots and lots of plastic bags – as well as more distressing rusty items like appliances, smelly diapers and the strangest thing I’ve found so far: a dead chicken lovingly taped up in an old box shoes.

A lot of garbage has been there a long time. “It’s amazing the number of years some of this has obviously been sitting on the sides of our roads and in ditches,” says Klein.

The Mission

Pick Up America is not just to collect the garbage. “We’re trying to promote the transition towards a zero waste society,” says Klein. “We hope to raise awareness and show people some things they can do, and raise questions about the broader supply current and habits that make a difference in the long term.”

While moving from city to city, the team shares its mission and objectives, including conducting workshops and other events Zero Waste. “We promote reusable products as the first step we can take to stop the production and the production of plastics as much,” says Klein. “That just stuck there forever plastic. It is doing great harm to our environment.”

Helping Hands

“There has been strong support from the communities that have gone through,” says Klein. “Many people have helped us already.” In addition to presenting the roadside cleanup projects, people have offered meals or opened their homes so that the computer can shower and sleep. “We also help us connect with others in your community,” says Klein. “That was wonderful to see.”

Every day is a new adventure, “says Klein. “It’s very rare that we know where we’re sleeping that night. Almost always find a place. With very few exceptions we have found the couches and floors to sleep.” So far, only had to spend a few nights in their RV painted colorful, nicknamed Rosie (left).

Not as many people have been willing to help pick up trash so far, but every volunteer makes a difference, says Klein.

5-7 miles per day

The collection process is slow. “If it’s just the four of us we can cover 5-7 miles a day,” says Klein. “That’s a bit slower than we expected.” If volunteers show we can move a little faster.

The team also hoped to do more community clean up projects, but the roads are a top priority. “The roads are so dirty, so we keep moving we have not been able to do as many projects as we thought,” says Klein. But he says they know they are already making a difference, so the effort is worthwhile.

How You Can Help

Pick Up America filmed in Covington, Virginia, on July 10 for its next big project to clean up the leg of the next wave of stops. “Look over our route on our tour,” says Klein. “If you know someone or an organization close by, let them know you’re coming. We need as many people as possible.”

Manpower to pick-up day is essential, but there are many other ways you can help. “Take pictures, write blogs, talk about what we are doing. Every little bit helps,” says Klein.

Pick Up You can also buy T-shirts and reusable water bottles America, or donate to the cause (Pick up America is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit) through its website. “Right now we are trying to raise enough money to pay health insurance for our team,” says Klein.

And, of course, can take some steps to reduce their own waste. “Number one, stop using plastic bags,” says Klein. “Take a reusable bag and take it to the grocery store.” Reuse of water bottles, and avoid fast food as it comes with wrappers that end up in the trash. “Fast food is cheap, but not worth the price,” says Klein. Also, being more aware of what you’re shooting, if they can be reused.

You can also organize your own cleanup event in your area, and Pick Up Artists can give some advice to begin with, says Klein.

An incredible experience

“One thing that has been very encouraging is that we have put our faith in the country and these communities to help us around the country and keep us moving. It was an amazing experience to see these people step forward to support us,” says Klein. “That was refreshing and encouraging. We’re getting more and more hopeful and positive as this goes hand in hand.”

The story of John R. Platt, originally published on July 5, 2010 on tonic

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