What type of trash are Pick’n Run solutions good for?

When explaining the Pick’n Run concept, one of the first comments we get is that there is too much trash to pick up.  When they say this, they are envisioning what you see in the picture below, which they think they have to pick up.

However, we are not focusing on finding a solution to pick up large piles of trash that you see in the picture above. There are other companies and solutions that will be able to focus on doing that.  Rather, we are initially focusing on helping runners pick up the odd trash pieces that you see on your runs, as you see in the picture below (which is trash we have picked up on one of our runs). The plastic cup. The beer bottle.

In addition, we aren’t focusing on the “nasty” trash that is gooey and yucky.  For the most part, the cups, the bottles, the candy wrappers are dry (we are developing gloves that people can use to pick up the trash, and put it in a Pick’n run backpack).


Yosemite Half Marathon, used the backpack – prototype 1

A month ago, my daughter (Naya), my sister (Betsy), and I ran the Yosemite Half Marathon.  It was the 1st half-marathon for my daughter (she did wonderfully), and the 4th half-marathon for my sister, and my 7th half-marathon.  My sister and I had run the Yosemite Half Marathon last year (when it was in October), and we wanted to run it again.

This time, I ran a race for the first time with one of the Pick’n Run backpack prototypes….the first prototype.  I have used the prototype on shorter, practice runs, but never in a race and not at the half marathon distance (13.1 miles).

I was able to pick up trash during the race, put it in the backpack, and then easily empty the trash at various trash locations, which tended to be at various mile markers.  See pictures below of the race, and the backpack usage.


Davis Legacy Soccer Tournament

This past weekend I was at my daughter’s soccer tournament in Davis, California.  It is interesting to see volunteers picking up trash during the tournament. I thought it was nice they were doing it, as it definitely made a difference with less human-made trash laying around the soccer fields.

The volunteers from the local soccer club that was hosting the event, and were in pairs.  Thus, it wasn’t one person alone picking up the trash.

And come to find out, after talking with the volunteers, their trash pick duty was part of the requires volunteer hours they have to do with the club.  So the initiative wasn’t on their own accord.  This is interesting as we work on building out the motivation model with PnR and trying to provide less friction and more enjoyment for picking up trash.

In Minnesota: Taking a tour, and picking up trash

Here is an example of combining a tour of an area with picking up trash.  It takes place in St. Paul, Minnesota:

To make this happen, individuals from 3 different organizations worked together:

The individuals to picked up litter along two streets:

  • Syndicate street
  • Griggs streets

While picking up trash along these two streets, the individuals learn about the future of a Griggs Street park via an hour long tour.  The park will be on 5 acres that the Trust for Public Land recently purchased in the city of St. Paul. The property is near the Skyline Tower housing development, which is home to 500 or more families.


Earth Week begins tomorrow, Monday, April 17th — Leave No Trace

Tomorrow, Monday, April 17th, starts Earth Week. To start the week off on a positive note, here is an article about the Boulder-based, member-driven organization, Leave No Trace:

The organization is looking to motivate people to pick up trash in a public open space this week, and when doing so, photograph themselves with the piece of trash, tag @LeaveNoTrace on Twitter and/or Instagram and use the hashtag #LeaveNoTrash.

Article: How Entrepreneurs Can Turn Trash Into (Revenue) Profit (Literally)

Trash in the ocean is an interesting problem. 8 million metric tons of plastic currently enter the oceans annually.  Based upon that rate, one estimate is that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

Here is an interesting article talking about that, and a link to the company that is making and selling $149 sunglasses out of recovered high-density-polyethylene (HDPE) ocean plastics:

Austin-based company, Dell is mentioned as well: “Dell recently announced that it’s using recycled plastics collected from waterways and beaches for use in the new packaging tray for its Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.”

Note: The author of this article Elizabeth Gore highlights that 500m plastic straws are a culprit to the plastic generation.


Making backpacks out of plastic bottles

No, we are not making backpacks out of plastic bottles….yet.  However, we have found a company that is: Thread (and Timberland).

This article talks about how Timberland and Threads are working together to use recycled plastic bottles collected in Haiti to make their backpacks and shoes.


Article: Sweden has a weird but awesome problem: They’re running out of trash

Last December, Upworthy published the following article:

Can this really be the case? This article starts out with how much trash each American generates per day (4.3 pounds a day).  Evening though 66% of household trash can be composted, we don’t use close to that amount. The USA only composts 33%, whereas Sweden composts 50% of its trash.

Supposedly, Sweden wants that trash so they can compost more, and recycle more, to create energy.  This energy is used to provide heat and electricity to towns in Sweden. They have built 32 “waste-to-energy” plants which provide heat to 810,000 homes and electricity to 250,000.  To keep these “waste-to-energy” plants, Sweden is buying trash from other countries.

Note: The USA has 84 “waste-to-energy” plants (source: Energy Recovery Council), with Florida and New York having the most — 11 and 10 respectively.


This article triggered me to think about several questions and to search for answers to these questions:

How much trash do people make a day? In the USA, it ranges from 4.3 pounds a day (source: Duke’s Center for Sustainability & Commerce)  to 7.1 pounds a day (source: Edward Humes, “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash“.  Compare that to 1960, when Americans produced 2.7 pounds of trash per person per day (source: Duke’s Center for Sustainability & Commerce).  With a population of 319m, that is a lot of trash being generated per year, and over our individual lifetime (Humes calculates that is 102 tons of trash we individually generated over each of our lifetimes).

How many landfills are there in the USA, and what is their landmass? Currently, there are 3,500 active landfills in the USA.  That is 70 landfills per state on average.  However, some states are more populated than the other.  New York, Texas, and California have the most landfills.  With the USA population being 319m, that is ~91,000 persons per landfill.

The largest landfills are in California (Sunshine Canyon Landfill / Puente Hills Landfill), Indiana (Newton County Landfill), and Nevada (Apex Regional Waste Management Center).

And interesting history fact I found out when looking for answers to my questions: The city of Fresno was the first city with a municipal landfill: Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill.  The landfill opened in 1937, located 3 miles southwest of downtown Fresno, pioneering the use of trenching, compacting, and daily burial of trash.  In the Fresno case, it was to combat debris AND rodent problems.  The landfill was closed in 1987 (or 1989), after it had reached 145 acres. It became a National Historic Landmark in 2001 [ was debated to be included on the NHL list, the landfill is also a Superfund site, as it has leaked toxic materials ]