We envision a resilient network of individuals and communities interacting with each other and the land with an “I thrive when you thrive” ethic. This vision will flourish within closed loop resource systems and the active stewardship of local and global environmental resources.
The Pick Up America project draws attention to the magnitude of our wasteful culture. Everyone living in this country interacts with single use plastic, whether it is a drinking straw in a restaurant, a lid to a single use coffee cup, or a plastic bag from the supermarket. These products are destroying our planet. We cannot keep quiet while the convenience of plastic trashes our planet. So in addition to picking up literally tons of trash, we also speak at schools, universities, summer camps, churches and community centers, organize volunteer days, make recycled art and coordinate large public events when we reach bigger cities. We pick up trash, build awareness, and leave communities empowered to begin a transition to reduce their waste.
This project epitomizes young people taking action. It is not funded by some mysterious benefactor nor part of a giant beaurocratic structure. Pick Up America began when Jeff Chen noticed litter in Yosemite National Park. He couldn’t believe people would throw trash on the ground in such a sacred and protected space. So, he resolved to walk across the country picking it up and raising awareness about our disposable culture.
To date, Pick Up America has removed over 170,000 pounds of litter from over 2,500 miles of road, engaged over 450 volunteers, and been featured on national news twice. Along the way, we have created large recycled art projects, spoken in countless schools, and engaged communities along the way about zero waste. Our on-the-road volunteer crew has expanded to twelve.
We pick up litter to prevent it from polluting our waterways, being ingested by animals, or degrading on the land.
We pick up litter to have an accessible symbol to talk to people about the destruction consumerism is causing. Also, to have a microphone with which to draw attention to zero waste as a viable solution.
We pick up litter as volunteers, living on the road away from our homes for years, because we know we can't wait to address climate change.
Find out more about us on our website at pickupamerica.org, where there are lots of videos, blogs, photos, and stories from the road.
For a quick overview, check out our segment on NBC National News here: