What if everyone picked up just one piece of trash a day?

What would become of the ‘garbage crisis’ if everyone picked up just 1 piece of trash a day? Convincing even 1% of our 7.6-billion population to do so, would remove more than 27.7 billion pieces a year. At this pace, the crisis would soon fizzle out – at least the visible crisis. These simple ideas will often translate to powerful action if they can manage to bridge the gap between conceptual and reality. Most never do. And so, the impacts of our ‘throw-away culture’ have persisted.

In 2016 the world generated 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste. This figure has increased year-on-year. By 2050 it is estimated that we will generate around 3.40 billion tonnes.

At least 33% of this waste is mismanaged globally today through open dumping or burning – The World Bank

In many corners of the world this issue will not be forthcoming. In other places, you would struggle to avoid it. Indeed, the build-up of waste largely occurs in developing nations. Here, the localised difficulties have favoured an unsustainable approach to waste management. But, these nations do not exist in a bubble – their impacts have broader implications that affect us all. For any hope of addressing the garbage crisis, these nations will need a foundation.

Taken near a popular Holiday destination in Lebanon. Source: Gino Raidy

‘Think global, act local’ is a common phrase heard in green movements. It terms how global changes can be achieved if a disjunct community of like-minded people pursue sustainability in their immediacy. Essentially, by making local changes you are a part of a global community all making local changes simultaneously. Though, this begs the question:

How can you actually encourage people to get out and make a difference?

Enter ‘the adventure bag’…

Humans are social creatures. We are naturally inclined to pursue a community with whom we share common interests. We are also simple creatures with a dislike for complicated matters. Combine these in a social movement and you’ll have a powerful concept.

Recently, Jackson Groves, a photographer and blogger, breathed life into a very simple idea: what if people just picked up a bag of trash on their daily outings? From the outset, it wasn’t a revolutionary concept and more idealistic than anything. It needed a spin.

The ‘Adventure Bag’ was born.

Groves himself affirmed that the idea is not new. But, he has succeeded where others failed because of how the idea is shared. It is not some discrete task that takes up your free time nor a burdensome shift in lifestyle. The very root of the movement is non-invasive. You don’t have to change your life. Just bring a bag with you.

Jackson Groves with an Adventure Bag collected in Panama. Source: Journey Era

The Adventure Bag is exactly what it sounds like – a bag of trash collected on adventures. Whether you’re hiking Panamanian ridges or exploring Barracuda Point, bring a bag and pick up a few pieces of trash. The size of the bag is rather irrelevant. The goal of the movement is not to consider yourself as an individual tackling a seemingly insurmountable problem. This is a community movement. Your single bag of trash contributed to the removal of hundreds or potentially thousands of bags by the Adventure Bag community.

Most adventurers are good people, they enjoy nature and they understand we must protect it. But we are all busy and often brush aside any potential action. The Adventure Bag movement aims to inspire these very adventurers to join the movement and start collecting their very own Adventure Bags – Jackson Groves

Get outdoors. Go on adventures. Explore the environment. The adventure bag demands this. It is an extension and reflection of this love for the world that underpins the movement.

So far, the Adventure Bag movement has motivated several mass clean up days, each garnering a few hundred kilos of trash. Other individuals have taken to their local trails and collected their own #adventurebag, sharing it on social media. The Adventure Bag is bringing change. One bag at a time.

The power of positive social action can be global, it can be big and it can begin to make a dent. But most importantly it can influence many people to make a positive attitude and behaviour change on key issues such as plastic pollution – Jackson Groves

Think Global. Act Local.

The waste crisis can often seem insurmountable and stop people from pursuing seemingly fruitless endeavours. This is a common thread in environmental and social movements. But, these little actions will often be the foundation for something greater.

It took a single man collecting a bag of trash on his daily outings to prompt a movement which has presently collected several tonnes of trash in less than a month. Over this time, the Adventure Bag movement went from a single person to hundreds and soon thousands, with tonnes of trash under their belt.

This is not an uncommon story. Indeed, all movements begin with a single act of rebellion against an established norm.

The One Youth Movement was started by Jasilyn Charger in response to high suicide rates among Native Americans. The movement expanded and later went on to play a pivotal role in halting the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction in 2016.

The Earth Force Society was founded in 1977 by Paul Watson with the main goal of protesting illegal whaling and sealing operations. This movement has since renamed itself to Sea Shepherd and runs a global operation with numerous conservation accolades.

You need only look to some of the greatest social movements to see how powerful a single act can become. While there will be no single solution to the waste crisis, the Adventure Bag and alike movements form the foundations for a perception shift. And this is what the waste crisis is – a discordant perception. The waste crisis will be solved by those who can change the way people navigate the world. And, it could start on your next hike.

 Do you have your adventure bag?