Over the week of Thanksgiving this year, my husband and I went on our Honeymoon (yay!) to Los Cabos, Mexico. The weather was fantastic and the scenery was beautiful. Los Cabos is a big tourist hot spot and with that brings thousands of new people from around the world there every month. People come to Cabo for all different types of experiences from staying at resorts, shopping, golfing, exploring, swimming, adventure tours, etc. For our vacation, we stayed pretty local in Cabo San Jose, visiting the beaches and pools and exploring the local downtown area. I was immediately blown away by two things: the crazy amount of bottled water consumed at the different resorts and the lack of that waste being left behind on the beaches and streets. Although walking along the beach there was definitely some trash here and there, it was much cleaner than I would have expected given the huge amount of tourists and the large amount of disposal stuff everyone has. I know that there are a lot of workers at the resorts who probably get paid for cleaning up trash off the beach, but one of the things that struck me was how much people who lived in Cabo loved the place and worked hard to take care of it.
A perfect example of this was when we visited Cabo San Lucas and did the Lands End tour to see the arches and visit the tucked away beaches. It was a beautiful place and there was A LOT of people, boats, animals, and activity going on all around. When we were on the boat riding out to the arches our driver slowed down, leaned over the side of the boat and picked a water bottle out of the water and tucked it away inside the boat. The way he did it was so natural and seemed second nature to him. He didn’t make a big scene out of it (although maybe he should have to better educate others), it was very obviously just something he did because he felt he should. Seeing this guy pick up trash that wasn’t his to leave the place better than we found it reminded me of one of the lessons Nevada Outdoor School teaches through our Leave No Trace programming. The idea is we are more likely to pick up trash and practice Leave No Trace at places that are important to us and places we love (like Cabo to the boat driver). However, something it is super important to remember (and what I was reminded of and struck by during this boat tour) is that every place we visit is potentially someone’s special place and we should treat every area to the standard we would treat our own special place that we love.
So, the next time you’re just passing by a piece of trash on the trail or along the sidewalk, imagine what you would do if you really loved that place, and maybe think about leaving that area better than you found it… help spread the love and share the care for the beautiful, wonderful, amazing and inspiring outdoor places we all love.