SUP Garbage Man
No strings attached.
Just a dude on a SUP picking up trash.
One person can make an impact.
(link also available in "Featured Stories")
Sep 23, 2020
My name is Joe and I'm just a dude with a paddle board...and yes, I haul trash out of our rivers. I’ve recently discovered a passion for litter picking WHILE stand-up paddling (or SUP, for short). It is something that I can do that has a direct impact on our environment.
Haul trash out of our waterways and raise awareness by sharing my finds with the world.
Being a native Floridian, I grew up in a small beach town on the Atlantic Ocean and have always loved the sense of freedom of being on the water. By spending so much time at the beach, or boating on rivers and lakes, I gained an appreciation for nature at a young age. This appreciation drew me to paddle boarding. It was something I could do from basically anywhere and didn't need anything but a board and a paddle to explore.
The Litter Picking
I can also attribute my comfort level with litter-picking to my childhood. While walking our dogs, my mom would challenge my sister and I to collect things for every letter of the alphabet (A-Advil package, B-Bottle cap, C-Can, D-Doritos bag, E-Earplug, F-Flyer, G-Golf ball, and so on). We never found an item for every letter, but it was fun and kept us entertained on the walk. More importantly, it alerted me to the presence of litter in our world. Ever since then, I’ve been keenly aware of just how much litter is on the ground and in the water.
I created SUP Garbage Man in May 2019 to bring together my interests of SUP and litter picking. It combines several aspects of who I am as a person and has become something I’ve decided to dedicate my time to (outside of my full time day job). I started by posting photos on social media of what I was finding. I had hoped my efforts would raise awareness of the extent of the trash problem and maybe inspire a few other folks to pick up trash too. Since starting SUP Garbage Man, I've received overwhelming support from followers, have been featured in a few online articles, local news stories, podcasts, and even got to meet France's Ambassador to the US at the Embassy of France! (Check out the "Featured Stories" page for more!) All of which have reaffirmed to me that my efforts are worthwhile and my message is being received.
I decided to incorporate SUP Garbage Man as a Virginia-based Nonprofit organization to enable me to work with local businesses in an official capacity. The 501(c)(3) designation opens doors for waiving disposal fees and establishing agreements, where possible. Additionally, by establishing the nonprofit, SUP Garbage Man is now able to accept donations and enable folks to support the cause. Further details are provided on the Donate page.
Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to have a look around and don't be afraid to pick up the next piece of trash you find.
Proud to partner with the Werner Paddles Sustainability Team and their Healthy Waters initiative. The goal is simple, take responsibility to protect the places we paddle. Find out more at: https://wernerpaddles.com/about/healthy-waters
Proud to partner with iRocker Paddle Boards to raise awareness and promote waterway stewardship.
As of Jan 31, 2021:
I've collected 2,289 cubic feet (64,815 L) of trash & recycling!
Here are some noteworthy items I've found since the beginning:
(quantity is in parentheses)
Treasure chest...yep, see above (1), vial of blood (1), medical boot (1), pregnancy test (1), IV bags (3), bottles of pills (3), tires (26), boat fenders/bumpers (13), plastic barrels (18), trash cans (12), construction barrels (9), traffic cones (4), hard hats (3), 5-gallon water cooler jugs (2), fire extinguishers (4), life jackets (6), rat poison traps (4), wheelbarrows (3), river inner tubes (2), buckets (39), oil drain pans (2), plastic chairs in various states of broken (27), chunks of floating dock (4), toilet parts (seat and 3 of the floating mechanisms from the tank) roll of plastic fencing (2), gas cans (5), stuffed animals (9), milk crates (7), coolers (5), mop buckets (2), cat carrier (1), large roller suitcase (1), skateboard (1), drone (1), bag of fish fillets (1), picnic table support leg (1), stop sign (1), and a keg (1).
I've also found countless: containers of used motor oil, traffic cones, large chunks of styrofoam, small camping propane tanks, toys, sports balls (football, basketball, tennis balls, street hockey balls, kickballs, etc), and packing material.
Other “strange” items include: a skull from a Halloween skeleton (2), plastic and wooden adirondack chairs (countless), aquarium rock, cowboy hat, snow shovel, countless large pieces of resin lawn chairs, a seven-foot styrofoam log, a shopping cart, a small kids’ slide, and much more. It is baffling how some of these things end up in the river.
This is all in addition to the "normal" trash and plastic bottles/bags.