The Great Trek for Trash

Courageous Social Change Adventurers

Michael Baretta’s (31) adventurous spirit inspired him to quit his corporate job and fulfil a lifelong dream. Camilla Howard (30) shared the same desire and so the pair joined forces. They began their 3 000 kilometre journey along the country’s coastline collecting and recycling litter, and educating communities along the way.

The pair was inspired to start the Trekking for Trash initiative after realising how much litter goes unnoticed. “People have stopped seeing the litter, so we knew we had to do something bold to make people conscious of it again,” says Michael. “We have put our lives on hold to do something we are truly passionate about, and that’s to make our country a better place to live in.”

“After having completed various adventures, including barefoot Kilimanjaro, I realised that to really grow as a person I need to push beyond my boundaries and be taken out of my comfort zone,” says Camilla. “This is an enormous personal challenge and making a difference to the environment and people’s lives is really the cherry on top.”

Cleaning up SA one step at a time...

Supported by Nampak and Collect-a-Can the CAN DO! Trekking for Trash expedition has seen Michael and Camilla walk approximately 20-30 kilometres a day visiting schools and cleaning beaches with the help of the communities along their way.

The physical effects of walking 3 000 kilometres was a pretty daunting thought for both Michael and Camilla. “It’s the same as walking from Joburg to Durban five times,” laughs Camilla. They have braved the elements and the physical and mental challenges along the way. “We prepared by training, building core strength and eating properly to ensure that our bodies were strong enough to withstand the various impacts we could face. We also had to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally because we didn’t know what impact it would have on us personally or on our friendship either. We each wrote a manifesto to each other at the start on rules regarding our health, our relationship, our manners and our goals. We helped to prepare one another,” says Michael.  “It’s a long journey, and I know our perspectives on life will change by the time we come back,” he adds, “but this is one project that really comes from the heart.”

Now halfway, Michael and Camilla have started each day of their journey at 06h00 and walk between 20 and 30 kilometres before resting for the day. While one carries the litter bin – which is made of cloth, and can be carried like a backpack to take about 20 litres of trash at a time – the other is responsible for carrying their food and water supplies for the day.

The majority of the litter collected so far has been from glass and plastic bottles that were presumably thrown out of car windows by passers-by. “On our first 30 kilometre leg we saw hundreds of glass bottles just lying along the side of the road,” says Michael. “The intention is to get people to notice the amount of litter in our country and to create an awareness of the impact it has on the environment so that they will ultimately stop littering, not just along the coastline but throughout the entire country,” he explains. 

They’re off to a great start in making a tangible difference and on their return in April 2013, they will share the lessons they learned and the importance of dreams, discipline, planning, and living life in service to others.

If you or your organisation would like to be part of this initiative and make a cash donation in support of environmental education organisations in South Africa, visit www.trekkingfortrash.co.za to complete the donation form. This will ensure the effects of the project are felt long after the trekkers have landed in Kosi Bay.

For up-to-date information and to join the Trekking for Trash team for beach clean-ups in your area: Follow the CAN DO! Trekking for Trash expedition via Twitter

@Trekking4Trash and www.facebook.co.za/TrekkingForTrash