Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rochelle's Glorious Garbage Journey- Guest post

Changing the World One Piece at a Time

When I think back to a year ago, I certainly didn’t expect my life to have turned out the way it is today. I pick up litter almost on a daily basis and it is the most rewarding thing I’ve done with my life so far. 

After graduating from an environmental science program I leapt around from contract to contract without finding any solid work, which is the case for many graduates in my field. I felt the need to have something more stable in my life, but what? I started doing litter cleanups everywhere I went and documented the results through social media, my friends and followers loved this. There’s something very gratifying about seeing a mess, cleaning it up, and leaving the space better than it was before. After a few weeks of litter cleanups I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to see what I’d find the next time I went out. I travelled around from place to place with a garbage bag and a clipboard, taking note of each item collected. It’s been a year now and this glorious garbage journey has flourished into a non-profit organization that focuses on raising awareness about the issues surrounding litter around the globe.

When people ask me what I do and I tell them about “A Greener Future” they’re usually surprised that I started and run the organization all on my own. It wasn’t very long after I started picking up litter that I realized that I was doing something that I loved and cared about and I decided why not take it to the next level? It is a lot of work but even if A Greener Future hadn’t come to be I’d probably still be out there picking up litter. Is it worth it to put so much time into something without being paid? Yes, if it’s something you love. I couldn’t imagine my life without A Greener Future. It’s my voice, my inspiration, my community, and a way to help improve the future by bringing like-minded people together. 

Once you’ve taken part in litter cleanups regularly your eyes become more focused on seeing every little piece. You wouldn’t believe how much litter you pass on a daily basis and probably don’t notice, especially cigarette butts. It’s literally everywhere, even in places you wouldn’t think it could end up. While the issue of litter can be depressing I do my best to keep posts positive, lighthearted, educational, and even mix a bit of humour in there should I pick up something particularly interesting. Being an advocate for the environment definitely has it’s ups and downs. I love making an impact and seeing positive change, but you would not believe the number of people who actually stand up for litter. I’ve heard every excuse in the book: there aren’t enough trash bins around, my litter creates employment, or it’s just going back to nature. The thing is litter affects everyone in one way or another. It has negative health impacts especially when it contaminates our water sources, it depreciates property values, increases pest infestations, reduces tourism, harms wildlife, imbalances ecosystems, destroys natural beauty, and even promotes crime.…..You know littering is a crime, right?

I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of support I have received over the past year from friends and strangers alike. After a full year of collecting trashy treasures on my own and with the help of some fabulous volunteers the litter total has reached over 150,000 pieces. I have cleaned up litter in Canada, the US, The Bahamas, Spain and Portugal. And I have reached millions through social media. I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out and I encourage others to follow their hearts and do what matters to them. I hope if I put in enough time and passion I can grow this non-profit into a global movement that is sustainable and gives people something to talk about. The environment affects everyone, and I’m going to do my part to help create A Greener Future for generations to come, even if it is just one piece at a time.

Rochelle Archibald
Founder/Executive Director
A Greener Future