The plastic problem
When it comes to plastic pollution, the numbers are enough to make the most optimistic among us feel a bit grim. Since 1950, around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced. Every bit of it still exists and will continue existing for at least 500 years more. And, of course, the production continues. Plenty of that plastic and the other non-biodegradable materials humans use in manufacturing end up in all sorts of places that they don’t belong, including in our oceans and the beautiful natural environments we love exploring on our bikes.
If you’re a cyclist who values the freedom the bike gives you to explore the diverse natural beauty of our planet, you’ll likely agree that one should always aim to positively impact destinations visited—and leave the place cleaner than it was when you got there is an integral part of that. So with that in mind, allow us to suggest planning a bike-powered community cleanup of your own this weekend.
Do cleanups actually help?
Simply put—yes. Several studies have illustrated the fact that community cleanups are a vital means of bolstering tourism and local economies, protecting wildlife, and raising public awareness about the need to deal with our waste mindfully. When we actually start paying attention to the pollution around us and take it upon ourselves to do some of the cleaning up that we often take for granted or are happy to outsource, behavioural patterns start to change.
Indeed, each community has unique requirements, and if you’re interested in identifying specific needs your area has around waste, you should get in touch with local and regional organisations already engaged in the effort. Once you’ve armed yourself with additional knowledge, you’ll be more likely to make a difference and be more persuasive when you invite other community members to join in local clean-up efforts.
The many benefits of cleanups (in addition to sweeter smells and less trash)
Engaging in a community cleanup of any scale can be a super empowering experience that provides an accessible window into imagining how we could all lead more sustainable lives. In addition, a bike cleanup is an accessible activity for the whole family and an excellent opportunity to teach younger riders about the importance of mindful waste disposal.
By cleaning up your local park or neighbourhood, you’re not only doing right by the community’s ecosystems but also by your own health and that of other residents. Large amounts of trash and garbage can create unsanitary conditions that encourage the development of health problems and diseases. Finally, cleanups are an invigorating experience and can serve as a springboard for other community actions or activities.
World Cleanup Day 2022
This Saturday, September 17th, 2022, is World Cleanup Day. This unique event unites millions of volunteers, governments and organisations in 191 countries to tackle the global waste problem and build a new and sustainable world. In 2018, 17.6 million and in 2019, 21.2 million environment heroes joined in on an epic 36-hour green wave of cleanups across the globe—beginning in New Zealand and travelling around the world before ending in Hawaii.
We love the idea of World Cleanup Day because, like the cycling community, it harnesses the power of people worldwide to achieve incredible things by joining together.
How to organise your own bike cleanup
Plan according to how much time you have! A cleanup can be as simple as taking a bag with you to pick up a few items while on your commute or an all-day group event that tackles the issue of trash across an entire neighbourhood. Perhaps you want to dedicate a ride to cleaning up your favourite local climb, road, or trail. Just make sure you bring something to store the trash you find along the way!
Another great tactic for spreading the impact of your effort is posting an image of what you collected on a social media platform or in your local cycling group. You just might get someone to think differently about what they take for granted in their own backyard.
To learn more, you can check out the official site for World Cleanup Day 2022 here.