Monday, October 8, 2007

Why Wait for Government?

While they're not a cycling organization, the Tampa Bay organization Green Armada caught my attention this weekend; their story made the national news. The guys who started the organization were seeing too much trash floating by on the Hillsborough River. Instead of pounding on the doors of state or local governments to demand something be done, they just went out there and started cleaning up. Eventually major corporate interests (and not to mention individuals) realized that what Green Armada was doing was worth something to them, and started supporting them.

So the question for cyclists is: "What can we do that's of value to the community that also benefits us, and how do we make it happen and publicize it?"


Leighsah said...

I have a couple of suggestions...

When riding as a group, when we make our stops at convenience stores, turnarounds, wherever, do a five minute police call for the trash in the parking lot, side of road, whatever. The convenience store will appreciate it, other patrons will associate bike riders with helping keep the area clean and we don't run the risk of sliced tires because cans and bottles have been removed from the parking areas. (Carry an individual hand wipe. They are no bigger than a Gu packet so no worries about sticky, dirty, unsanitary hands.)

As a group, in our riding shirts at least, once a quarter, pick up trash along a riding route. It doesn't have to be a big deal, but an hour of 80 people picking up trash makes a substantial difference. Notify the town you're doing this so the trash bags can be collected in some area or deposited along a route for pickup by the garbage folks. Take a picture of everyone with their filled trash bags for the local paper's Sunday edition. Put the notice in the paper and various bike shops for volunteers. Offer a silly prize for the most trash picked up by weight, by size, most unusual to get the troops out.

Bike riders in their cycling club uniforms, secure the shopping carts that leave the store. Negotiate with the store who owns them that for every cart you return, they'll make a $20 donation to FBA, or the cycling club or whatever, but that serves three purposes. The carts, a definite urban blight, are removed from the streets, the stores get their property returned, and the bike community makes a visible contribution and still makes some money for a great cause.

Volunteer as a group for a water stop at a bike or road race or triathlon. I know the race directors are begging for volunteers. Picking up the race trash, again in our team colors, can be some nice and free clean publicity.

On a personal level, stop throwing out cliff bar wrappers and Gu packets on the side of the road when we're riding. It's no different that the morons who throw their cigarette butts out the window.

Luis said...

Gu Gels has a program that allows users to get a free pack in exchange for 10 empty ones. Go to for more details.

It would be nice to see other companies, such as Clif, to adopt a similar strategy. And why not accept competitor's empty packs in order to help promote their own brand?

There's so much that we can do.