For my mom's birthday present, my sisters and I agreed to walk the Camino of Santiago (also called The Way of St James) together. This means, walking a distance of 150 kilometres, with a heavy backpack of 6 kilograms, under the blazing sun, with temperatures reaching up to 30 degrees Celsius. It also means sleeping in bunkers with many roommates and waking up every day at the crack of dawn. Camino de Santiago is all about making sacrifices, so I accepted the challenge and upped it one more...
While preparing, I read that between three hundred and six hundred people walk the Camino de Santiago every year. With many kilometers to cover, there is practically no time to sit around. So everyone eats and drinks on the way, and that means.. a lot of garbage. I had found my second challenge. As a green traveller and wannabe-world-improver, I committed to cleaning the way to Santiago de Compostela. Why? For 3 purposes:
To help maintain the fauna and flora along the way, and to respect the locals living by the route
To show that it's OK to pick up other people's garbage. Yes, principal responsibility lies with the person that littered. However, it also lies with us if we decide to leave it there. You can choose to be part of the solution, not the problem.
It's proven that people tend to litter more when there is already trash on the ground. So, it follow that by removing trash, people are less inclined to litter at all.
Every day on the road, I gathered a full trash bag of bottles, cans, energy bar wraps, straws, cookie wraps, etc., and kept it by my side until I reached the destination of the day. To my surprise, the way was overall pretty clean, especially considering the hundreds of people that pass by there every day! Every one of those wanderers can be a potential danger to our environment. But, like the two sides of a coin; for every litterer, there is another cleaner! It was a great surprise to meet fellow cleaners, Livia and Tey, a lovely couple from San Francisco. We worked together to leave the Camino truly and utterly clean as we passed along.
Check out the video: