As summer quickly creeps upon us, remember to Pack It in, Pack It Out — that is, leave the destination you visited with everything you brought with you when you arrived.
One of the goals of this movement to stop marine debris at its source and leave little impact when visiting popular beaches and campgrounds, as a courtesy to others, as well as the planet. Although some people may feel that leaving a piece of trash behind is harmless, when multiplied by the millions of visitors that visit California’s coast each year, even small errant choices begin to add up to large problems.
Every year, California spends hundreds of millions of dollars to keep our coasts and waterways clean of debris. Leaving debris behind not only costs money to clean up, but the debris can entangle wildlife – or be eaten by critters who mistake litter for lunch. Marine debris degrades the natural habitat of many species and is an indicator of how people choose to make their lasting imprint in their communities and in the world.
Follow these important steps to make a big difference:
Plan Ahead – By preparing in advance for an upcoming trip, you can be sure to only pack what you know you can carry out. Remember to bring a container to stash trash for all of your garbage. Being mindful of what you bring with you will help ensure that you collect it all when you leave.
Reduce at the Source – Avoid bringing single use, disposable items. Each year, around 40% of the trash collected during Coastal Cleanup Day, an annual beach cleanup that occurs every September after beach season is over, is related to single use food convenience items – cups, plates, utensils, wrappers, straws, and beverage cans and bottles. By planning ahead, you can choose picnic items that have a smaller environmental footprint, such as Aspenware biodegradable cutlery, reusable cups and plates, and your special picnic dish served from your mom’s beloved casserole dish.
Food Scraps, Not so Good – People often assume it is o.k. to leave food scraps, such as orange or banana peels, behind. Not so! Food scraps left by campers and beachgoers are not a natural source of food for many of the species and may alter the delicate ecosystems people visit on vacations each year. Although we wouldn’t frown on some guerrilla composting, leftover food scraps also make the area less appealing to the next round of visitors, so along with your reusable serving ware, pack out your food scraps!
By pledging to Pack It In, Pack It Out this summer, you are not only being courteous to your fellow travelers, but also teaching others about the importance of environmental stewardship. Learning to leave no trace no matter where you travel will help guarantee that future generations will appreciate the same amazing destinations we enjoy.