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Leaving a Positive Trace: Trash Free Trailling

By Victoria Herbert

I tell so many people this story, it’s a simple one but its had such an affect on me that I can’t help it.

I’ve lived in the same town for 6 years and walked my dog on the footpaths and trails around here throughout – daily, sometimes multiple times. In that time, I’ve crossed paths with many other dog walkers, out in all weathers.

Sometimes our dogs have had a sniff or there’s been an awkward exchange of embarrassed smiles as one of you gets caught with a poo bag in your hand waiting for your pooch to finish its business. But that’s been it. How little can we each get away with without complete ignorance and rudeness…? Nods. Nailed it.

Then one day, something changed. On the same footpath that I’d walked countless times, with the same dog, in the same weather, I started picking up litter. The same litter that myself and fellow dog walkers would usually pass and had done on many occasions, often with a tut or a frown of annoyance that someone else had so flippantly discarded their drinks can in the hedge.

Suddenly, these strangers who I only recognised by the size and yappiness of their dogs stopped and – they could speak! They smiled as they said ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘it’s great you’re doing that’, ‘I really appreciate it’, ‘keep up the good work’ and some even stopped for a proper chat.

Six years we’ve been walking past each other without any more than a cursory glance.  It’s funny how such a small act of a good deed totally changes the way that people perceive you and how they then choose to interact.

For many reasons, I find it incredibly satisfying when coming home with a pocketful of sweet wrappers, a bag of recyclable plastic bottles or whatever else I’ve found on my travels.

Picking up litter has made my daily dog walks better – I now know the people who I share the trails with. Most of them now pick up litter too so I’m having to go further afield to get a satisfying haul(!)

With our joint effort, there’s less plastic that’s going to stay embedded in the environment for our local wildlife to get themselves stuck in/ill from and the landscape just looks much prettier! Turns out that doing good makes you feel good and encourages more of the good stuff from others.

It's now become part of my normal lifestyle. I suppose you’d call it, a habit. Rather than leaving no trace, instead I’m leaving a positive one, on the place I’m in, the people I meet on the way and ultimately on myself.

To find out more, visit or give them a follow on social media @TrashFreeTrails #leaveapositivetrace

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