So, the other weekend Elicia and I drove up to Naejangsan National Park to do some hiking and view the amazing fall colors here in the southern part of South Korea. In case you missed that post, here’s the link. Needless to say, it was a beautiful one.
While we hike I take the time to think about many, many things. But lately I’ve been consumed by thinking about how much trash we produce as humans. One-time use coffee cups, bags, wrappers, water bottles, packaging, etc. I won’t go into ‘preacher’ mode or give a ‘doom-n-gloom’ viewpoint about our earth and how we must take care of it… I think we all understand that as the world popultion rises, the demand for resources rises, and the supply of natural resources gets depleted unless we do something to keep the cycle healthy and limit our impact. I’d highly recommend the videos located here at The Story of Stuff if you’d like to gain insight from an interesting perspective.
The creation of excess trash is something I’m desperately trying hard to eliminate in my life, and for the time being, we’re making some slight changes that will have a positive impact. I’m excited to continue to learn more, change myself and my habits, and also help influence others to do the same. Elicia made a cool post called ‘5 way to simplify your life’ about some of these changes.
So, while we were in Naejangsan I couldn’t help but see wrappers and trash littered all along the trail. I’ve seen several wrappers and trash just about every hike, even in National Parks (!!), but this time while hiking in Naejangsan I did something about it. I took a leap and decided to do something good. No more excuses. I thought to myself, why just look at the trash and feel sorry about it? Why simply say, wow it sucks that people are littering here in this beautiful national park. Maybe I should do something about it.
So, I started picking up the trash.
It wasn’t long before I had a handful of wrappers.
That’s when I picked up a plastic bag, so I used that to collect the rest.
But then that plastic bag got full.
So I found another plastic bag that was tossed to the side of the trail, and started filling that up, too.
I even found a discarded plastic water bottle, right alongside the trail.
The energy I got from picking up trash was a great experience. Several Koreans saw what I was doing, got a huge smile on their face, pointed to the trash in my hands, said something in Korean followed by, “GOOD!” and then gave me a high-five or a handshake to thank me. It was actually a little emotional. They noticed that some strange (very tall) foreigner was picking up trash on their mountains and they showed their appreciation. But really, it’s our mountains. And bending over a few dozen times to pick up trash while in nature is a tiny little step in the right direction. Here’s all the trash that is no longer scattered along the beautiful trails in Naejangsan National Park:
From now on, I will be making the trails a little cleaner by picking up as much trash as possible while hiking. I’m not sure how big of an impact I’ll make, but I don’t really care about that right now. I know in my heart that it’s the right thing to do, and by doing good, others will see and want to follow along.
I encourage you, no matter who you are, where you live or where you hike, to pick up some wrappers or trash while on your next hike and on all future hikes. It was a great first-experience for me, and I look forward to many more. Even if it doesn’t get recognized, I will be satisfied in knowing that the trails are bit cleaner now…
I hereby pledge that from now on, I will be Kleaning Korean Mountains as my wife and I continue Klimbing Korean Mountains. If you want to join, please let me know by leaving a comment. THANK YOU!