Festival season is upon us yet again, and whether that has you jumping for joy or running for the hills, there’s no avoiding it. With Austin City Limits Music Festival, Sound on Sound Fest, and other large-scale events just around the corner, one Austin startup is already planning a unique way to get Austinites involved in the much needed post-festival cleanup.
Patrick Schecht and his team at fitppl—which sells environmentally friendly protein powder and apparel—started the Active Cleanups movement as a way to integrate workout classes into group cleanups at Austin’s beloved green spaces. Once a month, they coordinate with a different fitness instructor in town to lead a morning fitness class followed by a cleanup, with everything wrapping up around noon.
Starting in June 2017, the cleanups so far have included yoga, bootcamps, and even kayaking. With attendance reaching over 30 people, the outdoor workouts are bigger than typical fitness classes and provide attendees a way to give back to the city. Schecht says that reaching out to the fitness community has helped him cultivate a network of people interested in keeping Austin clean that he wouldn’t necessarily been able to find on his own.
“A lot of time when you think of cleanups, you think pretty traditional, kind of boring, put on some gloves, pick up some trash,” Schecht says.
“So what we try to do is incorporate an activity which gives it some uniqueness and makes it fun for people, and also get a community of people involved that may not have been engaged in the first place.”
While festival season provides a prime opportunity to get involved in Active Cleanups, Schecht stresses that plastic pollution is a year-round problem.
“If you're walking down the street in Austin, if you just look, you'll see straws, lids, cigarette butts, bags and random trash. People in their everyday lives are just walking right by that,” Schecht says. “All this trash that we're walking by and not disposing of properly is getting washed into our drains, which all lead to our waterways and then to our oceans, which is the core issue.”
Even if you don’t participate in an Active Cleanup, Schecht hopes that an increased awareness to pollution will make Austinites more mindful of their own plastic use. Even seemingly small contributions make a difference.
“Just take that extra three seconds when you walk by trash on the street to pick it up and put it in the trash. It really goes a long way,” Schecht says.
1. Stop using straws. The recovery rate of plastic from recycling is very low. The straw you place in the blue bin will most likely still end up in a landfill or the ocean.
2. Pick up litter.
3. Avoid buying items heavily packaged in plastic and support companies that eliminate plastic.
4. Don't use plastic bags and support plastic bag bans.
5. Refuse plastic cups and disposable plastic utensils. Bring a canteen to restaurants that only offer plastic cups. Request a glass cup if they have them. Bring a reusable mug when you order coffee. Bring your own fork when you eat out.
6. Don’t just discard electronics. Use sites like eBay or Craigslist to sell used goods made of plastic instead.
7. Ask your office manager at work to go plastic free or find plastic alternatives.
8. Organize your own cleanup with friends and family on the weekends. If you don't know where to start, contact us at fitppl.org and we'll help out.
When: October 21
Where: Rowing Dock, 2418 Stratford Drive, Austin
What: A kayaking excursion on lady Bird Lake to collect ACL debris along the banks of Zilker Park.