The Water Is Fine, Littering is Not

(Photo: Pexels)

Last weekend, a couple of friends and I decided to go to a swimming hole near Foster Lake to combat the summer heat.

It’s pretty tucked away, and most people don’t seem to know about it, save for the locals.

To get to it, it’s a beautiful, short walk up a shallow river. I’d say the swimming hole is about a quarter of a mile up it. Along the walk are high rock faces with long vines about thirty feet high. There’s even a spot where the rock cuts in behind the vines, creating a small cave behind the vines.

Sounds gorgeous, right?

Well, it could be if it weren’t for one thing.


From the minute we stepped into the river and walked up to the swimming hole, there were piles of garbage all along it. We even encountered a fish and crawdad lying belly up and lifeless at the bottom of the river.

I can’t say for sure that garbage is what sent those creatures to their shallow, watery graves. However, I can say for sure that it did not help their chances of survival.

In fact, thanks to littering, there’s an estimated 100,000 birds, marine animals, and sea turtles that die each year, according to the whale and dolphin conservation (

Research has shown that littering is much more likely to occur when there’s already garbage somewhere it shouldn’t be, according to The litter already on the ground tells us that it’s okay to just add to the pile, and that someone else will pick it up. That couldn’t be any more wrong.

Don’t let litter have that effect on you. Be aware of the fact that if you see garbage somewhere besides a proper receptacle, it shouldn’t be there.

I urge you to pick it up if you see it. I wish I’d had a garbage bag, or anything at all to pick up all the garbage I saw at the river that day.

When you go out and enjoy the beauty of our state during these final days of summer, remember two sayings: “Leave No Trace,” and, “Pack It In, Pack It Out.”

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has seven principles to leave no trace when your visiting a natural area, whether it be a local park or a backcountry area. In that list is “Dispose of Waste Properly.”

It applies to litter, human waste, and wastewater. Basically, always pack out anything you packed in, and you should always leave a place cleaner than you found it. Although, you should never remove any naturally occurring items, and don’t disturb wildlife. They say, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

So, if you’re out enjoying some cool swimming hole, or going on a nice hike this summer, don’t be the asshole that leaves garbage behind.

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