Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Trashy

After a sunset picnic dinner in the state park, we left lovely Newark yesterday evening for West Chester, Pennsylvania. In the last hour of twilight, we were treated to some amazing countryside views, and we happened upon the gorgeous Goodwin Nature Preserve. 

With the waning daylight and this field full of tiny yellow flowers, this place seemed positively magical. 

 The sound of this brook added to the effect. 

There are hundreds of what we speculate are young fruit trees growing in the preserve, their young sprouts protected from hungry deer by these coverings. 

As we travel, we've seen some really great parts about America, like Goodwin Nature Preserve, but we've also seen some really dark parts, like abject poverty in Baltimore and copious amounts of litter, trash, and waste. We've enjoyed keeping this blog positive and cheery to provide an oasis from main-stream American news and media, but here, we'd like to share some of our observations. 

Baltimore: The Greatest City in America? 

An overflowing trash can full of recyclables sits next to an empty recycling bin at UNC. 

We have seen an unbelievable amount of trash on our journey. We've picked up litter from the streets of Washington DC, the trails at Chimney Rock, and many places in between. We can't stand to see trash lying around. On top of that is the trash we can't pick up, covering the sides of America's highways and byways. Today, after seeing a group of volunteers picking up litter along the road, we were inspired to see about volunteering to pick up trash ourselves. In Pennsylvania, the way to pick up trash is to have your organization "adopt" a section of highway and clean it four times a year. Obviously that's unfeasible for our schedule, so I continued looking around online, convinced there must be a short-term volunteer way to pick up litter. I came across the Pick up America project, which started much like our realization...a couple of guys were hiking in a National park, and were stunned by the amount of trash. On their hike, they picked up every single piece of trash, and determined to do something more about it. They formed a non-profit and determined to travel all the way across the country, picking up trash and educating the public along the way. They just reached their goal in 2012. How inspiring! I would love for us to be involved in something like this during our journey. It's also great to see excellent recycling programs in cities like Asheville, and we can hope that other cities will soon catch on to make recycling accessible and easy to every person. 

We made it to West Chester last night, another college town. We had breakfast at a delicious diner and chatted with a fun and friendly server (Hi! It was nice to meet you!) this morning, and spent the afternoon exploring the town's main street, which seemed lively on our way in last night, but was mostly closed today, Sunday. 

Some glimpses of downtown West Chester. 

Tomorrow, we'll begin our second work exchange near Allentown, PA. Can't wait! 


  1. I was apalled when we moved to FL and our apartment complex manager told me "well, we tried putting a recycling dumpster next to the trash dumpster, but people kept contaminating it with trash so we got rid of it." I also used to watch people drop gum and chips wrappers on the ground right by their feet while they waited for the bus in Boston. As if it would disappear into the pavement. It frustrates me to no end how lazy and ignorant people can be. That reminds me of a quote in the book I'm reading: "Metaphorically, if you take knowledge as light and ignorance as dark, there does sometimes seem to be a real presence to the dark - to ignorance. Something more tactile and muscley than just lack of knowledge. A sort of will to ignorance." - The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon. I wonder if we stop noticing the trash when we're surrounded by it on a daily basis. That would explain the clutter in my house.... :)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Kir! I is disheartening to see people so disconnected from nature and their innate connection with the world that they think nothing of littering and assume it will just "disappear."


Grab Our Button

The Happy Nomads Button
Powered by Blogger.