Two years ago, I started running – both for general exercise and race preparation – and decided to pick up aluminum cans abandoned along the roadside. A run one day down Big Cottonwood Canyon yielded 21 pounds of cans and the like, and this project took shape. Since then, I’ve run farm roads and busy routes, rounding up heaps of trash along the way in an effort to demonstrate the gross excess with which the average human litters. I’ve grabbed over 90 pounds in cans alone, but they’re only a small part of the problem. To that end, my focus has shifted to documenting the use of single-use plastic bags in Utah.

From April 22nd to May 22nd, I plan to drive to the four “corners” of Utah to take the first steps in my endeavor. My travels to the four corners, one week in each, will include state and national parks, rural communities, and Indian reservations. I’ll work to promote and document the clean-up of plastic bags and aluminum cans and create more awareness of the devastation that single-use plastic bags have on water systems, agriculture, and livestock in this state. Along the way, I’ll try to collect water samples and stories that will detail said negative effects, which I hope will create enough scientific evidence to stimulate discussion on plastic bags, as well as encourage voluntary recycling. During this time, I’ll also actively participate in local half-marathons, 10k’s, and 5k ‘fun runs’ to try to increase local awareness via discussions and meetings with mayors.

While I travel, I’ll photograph and paint the natural beauty of Utah, documenting that which litter and plastic bags are effectively destroying. On Saturday, June 1, 2013, I’ll host the Spring Art Adoption, a local art show featuring works from over 25 local artists. Here, I’ll show the collected prints, paintings, and garbage collected from across Utah.

Hauling so much trash across the state will take a toll, both on the environment and my wallet. I plan to offset my carbon footprint by purchasing trees from the local non-profit, TreeUtah.org, which works in conjunction with Salt Lake County’s One Million Trees program. I will also be taking a petition and surveys from Recycle Utah to gauge individual awareness about the dangers of plastics in our communities. More information about recycling in Utah can be found at momentumrecycling.com.

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