I was on the water before sunrise on a Saturday late in May 2019. I hadn't been on my SUP for a few months and finally just got up off of my butt and went. The water was flat and the air was warm. The birds were starting to chirp and the fish were starting to feed. The city noise was minimal and there were no boats zooming about. I had the river to myself. It was glorious. And then I saw it...a white object floating in the middle of the river.
What was it, I wondered.... could it be a buoy? Was it a floating "treasure" I could bring home and display? I had to know so I started paddling towards it. As I got closer, I realized it was none of those things. It was a carryout container tied up in a plastic bag and it was just bobbing along. Naturally, I knew it did not belong in the river so I scooped it up and put it on my board. As I was paddling in to go home, I came across a floating mass of debris (wood, logs, sticks, and trash). I grabbed a few things that I could keep on the board and sadly had to leave the rest. I knew something had to be done about the trash and I was not going to be the one to ignore it any longer.
The very next day, Sunday, I went back to the river at sunrise. This time I brought a milk crate and trash grabber with me. [Why a milk crate? Find out HERE] Well, it was no surprise but I quickly filled up that milk crate (pictured on right) and knew I needed to bring a second milk crate next time. For the third day in a row, I went back to the river. This time it was Monday and I was going to have to go to work following my time on the water. I brought two milk crate with me and started picking. Since I had only about 45 minutes to spend on the river before work I was unable to fill the crates. Knowing how much trash I had to leave behind I realized I had a concept for a social media campaign. I immediately began brainstorming a name. (I explain why I settled on "SUP Garbage Man" HERE)
After a few Instagram posts, likes, and followers I was hooked. I had found something that combined my passion for being on the water with my desire to help clean up. I was also able to tie in my enjoyment of photography and started documenting the trash I collected in pictures.
Now I spend most of my free time outside of my full-time job either on the water collecting trash, sorting and disposing of the trash, or editing the photos. Overall, the goal of SUP Garbage Man is simple, to collect trash from our waterways and dispose of it properly. I don't consider myself an activist or environmentalist. I operate on one fact: trash doesn't belong in the river. I remove it. I point no fingers and place no blame. My only agenda is to show the world that one person can make an impact.