Trash Running

I started running again recently and wanted to incorporate something different in my runs. Inspired by Beau Miles and by a growing and stronger environmental awareness, I decided to dedicate some of my runs to picking up some trash. As some studies have shown (Dur & Vollaard, 2014), a clean area tend to remain clean, while a littered area tends to induce more littering, probably in line with the Broken Windows Theory. The area where I live is not the most upkeep, so I thought doing some cleaning would help reduce littering. Even if it doesn’t, there are at least two benefits (excluding my personal well-being):

  1. Some of the litter will be removed from the ground and will be recycled or properly disposed
  2. Some awareness might be raised by simply being visibly collecting trash from the ground. I hope to be an example for the community around my area.

I keep the plan simple and low-key. I collect as much trash as I can, starting by collecting everything I spot, no matter the size. Once I’m closer to capacity, I start to focus only on recyclable materials, like cans, plastic bottles, etc… Currently, I bring with me a few canvas bags that I fill up with trash. During one of the runs, I found a long and sturdy bamboo stick discarded on a pathway. I now attach the bags to it and distribute the load over my shoulders. This allows me to carry heavier bags and, in turn, pick up more trash. Plus, it’s funny to see people’s reaction to a guy running with a cane and bags loaded with trash. At the end of each run, I unload everything in my garden, sort every piece of litter and dispose of it in the proper bins.

Below, I will keep a diary of each (or most) run as a way to quantify how much litter I have picked up and to keep up with the motivation.

I’m bad with photos, so I’ll try to take more and more often.


4 bags filled along with a box I found on the road over a 10Km run. This was the first trash-run I did. Funny thing, I picked up a very smelly bag at some point end realized only at home that it was filled with dead crabs.

Dead crabs and some trash

Dead crabs and smashed glass


Filled up half of my recycling bin, mainly with cans, glass bottles, and takeaways material (bags, drink glasses, burger containers, etc…). Also, a few boxes and cardboard that have been discarded behind some bushes. The funny thing for this run were two bibles, in completely different sites. All found over 10Km.

Filled bin


Unfortunately I lost the photos for this one. Huge amount of cans for just a 6km run. basically 2 entire bags were just filled with cans. I suspect the holidays made the situation worst. I’ve also found a broken telephone that I need to bring to a proper recycling centre.