But, it wasn’t all perfect. On our first trip, my wife and I biked about 80 miles, which we love to do on vacation. Each bike ride began in Nags Head around Mile 10 on NC12, the Virginia Dare Trail. The biking was great, but I was not happy with all of the roadside trash we saw throughout the neighborhoods and pathways between Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. I was disappointed, especially knowing that tourists like me were most likely to blame.
As we biked, that little voice in my head kept telling me I needed to do something about it. I wanted to hop off my bike and grab those aluminum cans, plastic bottles and fast food wrappers. I would have loved to find a “voluntourism” opportunity for a trash cleanup. What I really needed was my trash picker and a 5-gallon bucket so I could give back to the Outer Banks — a place that we’ve loved all of our lives.
I didn’t take the challenge on the first trip, but when we returned a couple of weeks later, I brought my trusty trash picker and my American Canoe Association “Paddle Green” bag, both of which easily strap down to my bike rack. The bag holds about as much as a 5-gallon bucket, but it is lighter and easier to transport on a bike. I only got in four trash collecting sessions, but came away with full bags each time, including about 50 pounds of recyclable materials and assorted garbage.
I also collected about 600 roadside cigarette butts, including 400 the day after a rain storm that made it easier to scoop up the filters. I’m never going to accept that smokers don’t know how disgusting cigarette butt litter is for the rest of us. If you choose to smoke, do us all a favor and have the courage to properly dispose of your butt. It is litter, no matter how small.
I only cleaned along miles 7-10 and I couldn’t get everything. The trash cleanups will likely not make much of a difference to anyone else, but at least I made myself happy. Instead of being someone who just complains but does nothing, I at least took ownership. Collectively in my lifetime, I’ve spent about six months in the Outer Banks and now I can say I’ve earned the right to go back again!