Don’t be a litter idiot!
One thing that really boils my blood is finding garbage left in nature. Whether it is a chip/plastic bag or a few cans left around a fire pit, there’s nothing worse than the site of garbage.
Littering, I think is one of the biggest issues surrounding recreational activities in Newfoundland. People seem to have lots of room to bring items into the woods but are either too lazy to bring it back out or really just don’t care and decide to throw it to the wind. Snowmobiles allow access to some of the most remote places in our province and with snow on the ground it becomes a lot easier to “hide” your garbage in the woods. Don’t get me wrong it’s not only the snowmobile society that is leaving trash. I’m an avid fly fisherman and the amount of garbage left on rivers throughout the summer is ridiculous, but seems how this is a snowmobile magazine let’s start with ourselves.
Think about it for a second, how many times throughout the season have you walked into a trail side warmup shelter that looks like your college apartment after a Friday night bender. Beer cans and bottles piled on the tables and in the corner, cigarette butts and ashes all over the place, just garbage everywhere. These shelters are maintained and cleaned by volunteers. The mess you leave behind becomes someone else’s problem; someone else has to clean up behind you!
Let me paint a picture, you’re a tourist visiting the west coast for a sled trip. You’ve just had a beautiful blue bird day sledding in around the Western Brook Gorge area, it was one of the best days you’ve ever had on sled. On the way back to the truck you pull into the warm up shack for a quick break, when you open the door the place isn’t fit to walk in to. What a way to ruin your perfect day, what an image to be left with! Society has a way of focusing on the negative aspects in life, while some may talk about how good something was they will always point out the bad. As a province, the more good things tourist say about us, the better chance we have at attracting more people to come and explore.
A lot of people take for granted that we can snowmobile in areas like Gros Morne National Park. Tree huggers and environmentalist everywhere are always trying to find ways to shut down activity in areas like this; we do not need to fuel their fire. The Thread Lightly Program has been in place in the US for many years. Its sole purpose is to “Protect and enhance recreation access and opportunities by promoting outdoor ethics to heighten individuals sense of good stewardship”. In laymen terms they preach about leaving an area as you found it, leave as little footprint as you can. If someone were to visit the same area at a later date, there should be little evidence that you were ever there!
In my mind the best way to discourage littering is to be vocal and speak your mind. People are a lot less likely to leave that bottle or wrapper if you shame them into putting it back into their pack. Don’t be afraid to call your buddy an idiot, or call out another group of riders you see leaving shit around a fire. Make them feel uncomfortable with what they are about to do, you are just as much at fault if you do nothing about it. It’s everyone job to be a part of the solution!
If you can pack it in, don’t be an idiot, pack it out.