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A Date with a Paper Plate
By Del Albright, BlueRibbon Ambassador

NOTE: We must pack it in and pack it out when recreating in the back country and on our trails. We need to set the example and show our kids how to be responsible in our pursuit of motorized and non-motorized recreation.

There I was, lying in the cupboard, minding my own business like any good napkin, when this paper plate starts coming on to me. Oh, she was cute all right, all decked out in flowers and looking good. But like any single male napkin, I played hard to get and not interested.

She kept chatting away, being all flirty, and finally I started to like the way things were shaping up. Hey, you never know, she might be the one.

She kept telling me that we should get together and go on a date. You know how paper plates can be. Pretty soon my resistance waned and I gave in to a date. We decided to give it a shot and I thought that this might just work out great.

Then, old what’s-his-face decided to take us on a picnic out in the woods. He loaded us up in his old truck and off we went.

Next thing I know I’m on this picnic table with a bunch of other paper products and old what’s-his-face has a bunch of his friends gathered around eating greasy chicken. But my date is nowhere to be found. I don’t see her anywhere. Now I figured I’ve been stood up. You know how paper plates can be.

Well, old what’s-his-face finished his chicken and wiped his greasy mug on me then threw me in this clear plastic trash bag with the rest of the low life trash. By then I could care less because the possible love of my life was nowhere to be found.

What’s-his-face threw us in the back of his rig and we headed for home. As we pulled out of the woods and onto the pavement, I saw her. Yes, it was her!

There she was, stapled to this fence post with a bunch of writing on her backside and big arrow pointing to our picnic area. My heart sank. What’s-his-face left her there, and as we headed down the road I waved good-bye to her knowing I’d never see her again.

Well, I guess by now you’ve figured out my message here. This is something many folks do, not realizing that leaving paper plates stapled to sign posts and message boards, is just another symptom of a larger problem ; trail sanitation.

In our crowded world today, we all must make sure we pack it in, and pack it out. Leaving trash and waste of any sort is something we must not do. Our trails are too precious to lose because of a trash and waste problem.

Leaving trash only contributes to campaign by the anti-access folks to mess with our form of recreation. It gives us a bad image and makes our next outing less enjoyable. It gives our opponents more ammo to shut us down and lock us out.

I am fully convinced that our future lies in not leaving our past behind. J

Not only do we taint our image, but I can only imagine the disgust of the poor USFS or BLM employee who has to go around every Monday morning and pull down paper plates (not to mention pick up trash left over in campgrounds and on trails). It must cost us taxpayers a lot of unnecessary money.

Human waste and associated trash are a significant part of this problem too. For example, on the Rubicon Trail in one summer period, 35,000 trail users generated 70,000 pounds of human waste. This is an enormous sanitation issue that we are dealing with.

You can help. You can pack it out. It’s that simple.

Whatever you do, please take the time to pack out your trash and waste. This includes human waste as well as trash. There are ways to do it. Please visit these pages for more ideas and links to places where you can learn more about trail sanitation

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