Two friends are so sick of litter that they’ve put their careers on hold for seven months to walk the length of the South African coastline.
“People have stopped seeing litter, so we knew we had to do something bold to make people conscious of it again. We have put our lives on hold so we can make a difference and do something we are truly passionate about,” said Michael Baretta, 31, who is tackling the epic journey with a friend of long standing, Camilla Howard, 30.
The two set off from Alexander Bay, near the Namibian border, earlier this month and are now in Namaqualand.
And they expect their Can Do! Trekking for Trash initiative to reach Durban on April 6 next year.
“We believe strongly in the broken window theory and that by cleaning our country we can make it an even better place to live in,” said Baretta, who resigned three months ago from his job as a manager for branding agency the Creative Counsel.
Their adventure includes collecting and recycling litter as well as educating communities along the way.
The pair begin their day at 6am and walk between 18km and 35km before resting. They aim to travel 3 000km by the end of their journey. They have now walked more than 650km.
Howard said the past 10 days had been a time of reflection for them and people they met.
“It is really shocking that people have no conscience about throwing their trash out of their windows, much less drinking and driving.
“It certainly explains the amount of car accident debris we collected in among the whisky and Black Label empties. I wonder if they realise their beer bottles will lie on the side of the road for a million years after they themselves have left the Earth,” said Howard.
The friends share the daily load of a 20 litre backpack for the rubbish they collect.
“It’s very difficult to measure change in perceptions. The strongest motivation for us would be to see how many other people we motivate to do something similar to our cause,” Baretta said.
The pair’s Facebook page has already reached nearly 4 000 likes.
According to Baretta, they are using social media “to build a community of like-minded people that will continue making a difference even when their adventure ends next year”.
You can like their Facebook page, Trekking For Trash, and get daily updates and photographs of their journey.