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Picking up roadside debris is exercise and community service

The trash man

June 28, 2012
By RENEE PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

GWINN - Chris Adams has a workout plan anyone can afford.

A retiree who lives in Gwinn, Adams does this work out several times a week much of the year.

He picks up roadside trash.

Article Photos

Chris Adams picks up trash along Southgate Drive in Forsyth Township Tuesday. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)

"I am all about getting poeple out to exercise,' he said. "I call this anywhere fitness. It's my idea that anyone can do this, be it a solitary pursuit or in a group. I have found other people who go out and do this. It's really great exercise."

This sunny Tuesday morning, Adams was walking alone along Southgate Drive.

"I started out greeting a deer early this morning," he said as he pointed toward a strand of forest along the road. "That's a beautiful way to start the day off. The little guy didn't run but just kind of looked at me, wondering what I was doing."

What he was doing was using what he calls "a grabber," an implement he employs to pick up the assorted piece of garbage he finds tossed along the roadside.

"This was created for people with disabilities to be able to grab things off of shelves at the grocery store," Adams said. "I find it perfect for this.

"When I first started, I would bend down and pick up the trash and my knees hurt like crazy," he said. "Next I tried something I put together with a pointer and a stick. Then I invested $9.95 in this tool and it's going to last forever."

More than just an exercise routine, the roadside ritual has become a friend finder, so to speak.

"It really is a wonderful way to meet people," Adams said. "I go along Southgate several times a year - I don't know if anyone else does this area - and it's heavily 'trashed.' A lot of people take this particular road and I have many people who beep and wave. Some stop to chat.

"And I have found there is kind of a network of people who do this, pick up litter. No one rewards you, no one directs you. But you know you're making a bit of a difference."

Adams said he finds quite a variety of items as he does his personal trash patrol.

"I find buckets and pails and dishpans along here," he said. "You to begin to become familiar on what people drop off on a given road. And you learn to carry a nice heavy bag to put the things you pick up into."

Or on this morning, three bags in less than an hour.

"No matter where I stop to do this, I find trash," he said. "I don't go more than seven or eight feet off the road. If I did trails, too, I could fill many, many bags. I wonder sometimes what it says about the state of mankind, some of the things I find, like oil cans and filters, water bottles full of spit or other things ... On this particular road, I find little vodka bottles, usually 10 or 12 of them, and little custard cups.

"It's not everybody who tosses trash on the side of the road, but there's a group of people who don't think twice about doing it," Adams said. "That's sad."

Despite his frustration at the amount of trash he always seems to find, Adams said he will continue to do his favorite workout.

"At my age, I need the exercise," he said. "You can only do so much in a gym before you get bored. I encourage people to do it. It's the cheapest, best form of experience. You walk, you bend a little, you get your circulation going. It's low impact exercise that does some good, too."

There's one more positive for Adams.

"If I have a problem, I can think it out while I do this," he said. "It always seems to work."

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.



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