By Laura Anderson, originally published on the K15t Sotfware blog.

Trash belongs in garbage bins – a statement we probably all agree on. Sadly, beautiful places, such as forest trails, meant for everyone’s enjoyment and recreation end up being littered with plastic bags, empty bottles, and lots of cigarette butts. In order to help clean up some of Stuttgart’s public forest trails, six of our team members recently spent a sunny afternoon picking up all kinds of trash. And who would have guessed that walking through shady forests can be much more exhausting than a project-filled day at the office?

Pledge 1%

By picking up glass bottles and cigarette butts we participated in Pledge 1 % – a corporate philanthropy movement which K15t Software is proud to be a member of. Our team receives paid time for community service, and everyone in the organization can suggest a beneficial project which other team members can participate in.

Pledge 1% in action

Before we get into the details of how we set out to rid a forest trail of bottles, car radios, and socks, here are few facts and figures from our day:

  • Participants: 6
  • Location: Stuttgart, Germany
  • Route: approx. 3 km
  • Equipment: trash bags, trash grabbers, and gloves (Thanks to Stuttgart city’s AWS)
  • Time: 4 hours per team member (total of 24 man hours)

Our team’s clean-up route through part of Stuttgart’s forest

Shortly after our K15t forest clean-up crew gathered at the trail head in Stuttgart South, it became obvious that finding garbage wouldn’t be a problem. As soon as we started paying attention and looking for trash it seemed as if we were surrounded by it – everything from small, transparent plastic bags to larger, more curious litter items. Anja was the first to discover one of these more unexpected pieces – a abandoned shoe.

Find odd find of the day

Other strange trash pick-ups included:

  • BBQ equipment
  • plastic grave lights
  • socks
  • a jacket
  • a car radio
  • an entire bag full of . . . we weren’t brave enough to look

Of course, we also found lots and lots of cigarette butts, empty packs, and plastic, as well as glass bottles and cans.

Even though some of these items were located in difficult terrain, the team didn’t shy away from scaling steep slopes and crawling through thorn bushes to collect every piece of man-made rubbish they could find. As it turns out, this hunt and retrieval effort gets pretty tiring, at least in comparison to a normal busy work day.

Our team overcame some difficult terrain in order to clean up

Hard to reach? No matter, our team didn’t give up. 

Trash collection in retrospect

Result of our forest clean-up activity

At the end of the day, we were able to collect over six big, heavy bags of garbage. And while some of us might have been more exhausted than others, we all felt good about volunteering to make our local trails a more enjoyable place for everyone.

What did the team think?

Davin: “I constantly whizz by trash when I’m riding my bike in the woods, and it felt really good to stop and clean up the trails I benefit from.”

Martin: “We are so used to trash that we don’t see it anymore. This activity was an eye-opening experience. I couldn’t believe how much litter is actually dumped into the local woods.”

Jerome: “Everyone should take the time to do something like this at least once in their life. It’s a valuable experience.”

Anja: “I was surprised how many bottles and cigarette butts were lying around, obviously from people having a good time. I wish people would party and then take their trash out with them.”