Stories of Kindness from Around the World

3,762 Miles Walked And 100 Tons Of Trash

--by fern514, posted Feb 1, 2014
On an unassuming weekday evening, Jane was at home… as usual. As her thoughts swung between what she was going to do with her life and their dinner plans for the evening, she was unexpectedly interrupted by an urgent call from her sister “get over here! Turn on NBC and check these guys out, they are just like you…” One facebook message and a phone interview later, Jane found herself on a bus with 8 strangers in the middle of the sweltering desert heat of Utah, picking up trash and raising awareness about zero-waste and climate change.

Armed with a deep love of the environment and a desire to make a difference, Jane, Davey, and a group of self described “environmental pick-up artists” went on a coast to coast road side trash pick-up. As they walked, sometimes only covering 0.9 miles in an entire day, they slowly and steadily made their way across the United States, picking up a total of 201,678 pounds of trash. In the end, three years and 3,672 miles later, they dipped their feet in the cold waters of the Pacific and cried.

Walking to the beat of your own drum is certainly not easy. The road is windy, often up-hill, and without a clear sense of purpose the voice that guides you can become dangerously inaudible. With lonely stretches of highway and a trash bag as your companion, how does one remind themselves that picking up that tiny gum wrapper on the ground makes a difference? When car upon car passes you by, where do you find the strength to keep going?

As we asked Jane and Davey to reflect on these questions, they shared remarkable stories of hope and inspiration that fueled their efforts to continue their journey. After spending weeks silently worrying about how she would have enough money to fly home for their two-week spring break, Jane found a blank, unidentified envelope filled with $850 cash in the middle of the desert. Just enough to get her home and back. After their bus broke down outside of Denver, they unexpectedly got help and arrived in Yosemite National Park three weeks late, just in time for the “Yosemite Facelift” where volunteers from all over the state came together with a mission to clean up trash all over the park.

Being at the right place at the right time became almost normal, and they realized that much of what they experienced was more than just a mere coincidence. As one pick up artist exclaimed, he learned to accept that “everything is as it should be”. Together, their team grew the inner resilience necessary to simply devote themselves to their mission, and surrender to the journey.

A small group of us were lucky enough to spend two hours last Wednesday evening listening to the remarkable reflections of Jane and Davey. As they shared their undeniable passion for the environment, we collectively experienced the authenticity of their spirit. It wasn’t only their blatant disregard for a comfortable lifestyle that moved us, but rather, a passionate devotion for engaging beyond the familiarity of well-trodden paths, and intentionally carving their own journey anew.

Jane and Davey, like so many un-sung heroes in our community, might not ever be on the radar of multi-million dollar funded projects. In many ways, it is precisely that which makes their story so appealing. Their dedication to working in small, meaningful ways, for focusing intentionally on depth, rather than scale, demonstrates a clarion call for real change. A reminder that we can all be of service, if we simply focus on filling the gaps we see in front of us, and remembering to act with a peaceful mind and an open heart. 

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Readers Comments

sandyremillar wrote: Very touching. The strong desire to bring change really does help miracles happen! Thank you for sharing.
DotMatrix wrote: Wow what a beautiful story. I'm sharing this one. This is so inspiring to me that it brings me to tears. Thank you! ♥
Joan wrote: This is so inspiring to me. I "trashercise" when i walk, picking up trash along the way, nothing gross or dangerous. If all of us that were able just picked up a little think how much of a difference that would make, not a hard thing to do.
DAVID wrote: Thrilled with your story! Imagine our world if everyone were like you? It can be done nothing is impossible! Most successful things start small and then and the future results are astounding. I live in india and can just imagine what could happen here if a few caught on to what you did.

Thank you guys. Great and surprising rewards are out there for you in the future.

David an englishman in india for 23 years india.
beetoote wrote: Thank jane and davey and fem514.
Shumaila Hussain Shahani wrote: Such an inspiring story. I love what you did :)
Skirnir Hamilton wrote: Neat story. I pick up trash locally, but not on that big a scale. 2013 was.
Total trash picked up 130. 5 lbs. (recyclables 6 lbs. )
Total miles walked 49. 40
# of trips 24
Wanda Walle wrote: It is remarkable that you did this. I have picked up trash as i walk for many years (my kids when they were young were sometimes embarrassed by it i could fill a large garbage bag between our home and the school (about four blocks). One of the amusing things i did once was ask the minister of the church if i could give a short spontaneous talk and she agreed - i had 60 seconds. So i walked up with the bag of garbage i had gathered on the way to church and said: there are three reasons i pick up garbage - l. The earth looks nicer, 2) i find some cool things like this feather and 3) i make money - the bottles i gather go to charity. I have the philosophy about don't pretend you don't see it and i don't only mean garbage! I made alot of people smile and laugh which is a wonderful thing to do. Cheers, wanda
cindythistle wrote: The planet and i thank-you

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