Nature Clean-ups with Nana

Last Updated on November 28, 2018 by Janet Frost

My grandsons can tell you all about nature clean-ups with Nana. The idea is partially to keep our hikes entertaining. However, I guess I have an ulterior motive. The concept of littering and/or vandalizing makes me kind of nuts. Clean-ups are my small revenge. Warning: I am going to indulge in a little soapboxing.

Let’s Go Learn Things about respecting Nature….

Keep Nature Wild 

I ran across a website as I was surfing online this morning that resonated with my  non-littering soul. The site, Keep Nature Wild is all about… well let’s have them tell us:

We believe that nature is meant to be wild and that it is up to us (as people) to help keep it that way…we actually provide opportunities to maintain and preserve our wild places.

Keep Nature Wild sells a  selection of  merchandise, t-shirts and hats. They then use the proceeds for “opportunities”. These opportunities entail  among other things, organized nature clean-ups in wilderness areas.

What resonates with me, is their passion for the wilderness, and their loving care of the wilderness. Both values are communicated without preachiness and with pure joy.

This is a great article sharing the Keep Nature Wild philosophy of Compassionate Activism

Why does Nana take us on Nature Clean-ups?

If you have followed me for very long you recognize that I thrive on nature experiences (and beer, but that is another story for another day).  Every travel itinerary has some form of hiking, biking, or kayaking. One of the driving forces of our move to Arizona is the extended outdoor season and the proximity of new wilderness.

Nana’s Issues

Vandalism and Defacement

On our last visit to Tucson, we explored the diverse wilderness of Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. At one of the vista points I was drawn to a stand of several aspen trees with unusual looking bark. As I came nearer, I realized it was graffiti scratched into every inch of these tree trunks. An audible and outraged gasp escaped. Seriously, who is compelled to deface nature like this? Who needs to leave their mark in such a destructive manner?

 You encounter such defacement in local, state, and national parks. Anything is fair game; boulders, bridges, piers, rock formations, trees, park shelters and benches. Don’t misunderstand, I love public art, sanctioned murals and sculptures. What I am talking about is pure disrespectful behavior. This behavior taints the structure, whether man-made or natural for posterity! 


The transgression of littering is less criminal than vandalization in my mind. But it is no less destructive. I understand that litter can be unintentional. A lunch wrapper accidentally escapes your grasp in a gust of wind. What I don’t get is aluminum cans, plastic bottles, or even actual bags of garbage left along the road, a riverbank, the beach, or a hiking trail. All this debris carelessly thrown out a car window or left by partiers in the woods and on our beaches really adds up.

Nana’s Solutions

Recently plastic straws have come under serious scrutiny. Environmentalists calling for them to be abolished.  Truth is, we still have portions of our society who think careless littering and defacing nature are good ideas. This seems to be a fundamental  attitude even more disturbing than the use of plastic straws.  

1.Teaching Respect of Nature

nature clean-ups
My nature clean-ups crew!

My little circle of influence on the next generations consists of 2 sons and 2 grandsons. I wish I had a broader scope of influence. Maybe this blog will reach a few more. But for now, I take teaching these four young men respect for nature, very seriously. My little nature clean-up crew love it and their parents ( my initial clean-up crew) really get behind the fun.

2. Join a community

I think that Keep It Wild captured my attention because it offers me a broader scope. I will join one of their group Clean-ups ASAP. Perhaps I will become one of their Wild Keepers. Obviously the community attracted to Keep It Wild already share my values. They already inspired me to use this platform for this soapbox. Maybe I will even buy  t-shirts for Nana’s nature clean-up crew.

3. Provide alternative palettes

This idea will seem silly, but I wonder if we could offer the defacers an alternative. I was enjoying the beautiful Michigan Legacy Art Park last week and discovered this really fun bench…..Just a thought…

nature clean-ups
This bench had a blackboard on each end with a bucket of chalk nearby. Even I was tempted to leave my mark on this inviting palette.

Every little bit

I don’t do well with huge unsolvable problems. Certainly protecting the environment is a gargantuan issue. Judging each other and pointing fingers is never successful.  We each have to find a small piece we can work on. I have to believe that the accumulated “small” steps of many will make an impact. My small contribution will be nature clean-ups with my grandsons. But…. I will judge you and probably scold you if I find you scratching your initials into anything.  Just saying!!

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