Contributing Writer Cathy Healy sorts out how one person’s trash can turn into the trip of a lifetime.
The Pope flew into New York on the same day that Adi Carter was flying out, so TSA was tense. Two guards called her over and started to search her luggage. “What’s this?” demanded one guard, pulling out a bag filled with 10 pounds of crumpled plastic and cardboard.
TSA relaxed as the traveling yoga teacher explained that this was all of her trash (not garbage, not junk mail) for the past three months. Adi was on a double campaign: To inspire everyone she met to stop being so wasteful-she’d cut her own trash by nearly five times-and to raise $20,000 for the Cambodian Children’s Fund, which shelters and educates children who were living in garbage dumps.
”You’re amazing, girl!” said one guard, waving Adi through. “Go save the planet.”
They didn’t know the half of it.
Adi is like us. She wants to travel, to heal the planet and to connect
with people in the places she visits. By coincidence, trash turned out
to be her key, and in the process, she transformed her own life.
being a daredevil yogaslacker, Adi confesses that she had to overcome feeling “terrified” to ask people for money. But she created a successful marketing campaign, The Mindfulness Challenge, which included her Trash Tour, and met her $20,000 goal. Last week Adi reaped her reward when the Fund flew her (with carbon credits) to Cambodia to teach the 400 students in their orphanage and to go out into the garbage and help recruit other kids to come change their lives.
“It’s going to be harder than you’d think,” she said as she prepared for her journey. “The kids know the trash dumps as their home and family.”
It’s also harder than you’d think to stop being wasteful. I still prefer Kleenex to washable hankies; still, until Adi inspired me, I was more or less complacent when it came to recycling. Now I pay attention.
Is Trash in Your Future?
I noticed two recent coincidences which indicate that a growing number of travelers are throwing lifelines to cast-off people. You might want to join them.
Families at the Dump in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: A few weeks ago,
my childhood friend, Judy Peterson, excitedly emailed photos of herself
at the dump with some mothers and children. She had ventured away from
her time-share holiday in Puerto Vallarta to visit the project, and quickly donated when
she saw the education and medical work being done. Judy plans to return
and help on her next trip.
Peace-Building, History and Culture,” a Washington Post magazine
article told by Jasper Hu, describes his day at a Manila landfill
during an “life-changing” summer course at George Mason University. The
course will be offered again this summer.
How has trash factored into your travels? What ways do you know of to help?
Photos: Adi Carter sits with her trash, by Tim Knox.