Cody Street is an avid hiker and loves nature, which is why he took exception when he would find garbage along the trails. So, he started bringing a trash bag to pick up litter.
Eventually, it inspired the senior engineering student to take action. That’s when he started Clear the Path.
Clear the Path, Street’s passion project, aims to connect community members with a passion for the outdoors while helping the environment.
According to its Instagram page, the online community “advocates for putting people in nature and taking our footprint out of it.”
“I think it’s important when you have something that you’re passionate about,” Street said. “I like being outdoors, so doing something that I can help with in that aspect is rewarding to me. Even if I’m helping one person, that it’s good with me.”
He hopes that Clear the Path will be able to bridge the gap between outdoor activity enthusiasts and groups that offer volunteer opportunities to clean and maintain the areas they enjoy.
“There’s a decent amount of my friends, and people I know that are nature-lovers, who like to go hiking that have followed it initially, but [I’m] hoping to reach more people, especially in the Gonzaga community,” Street said.
The project is in its early stages, but Street has big plans for Clear the Path.
While the forum is centered on the Spokane and Portland areas right now, he hopes for the online community to be able to branch out and include other locations.
“As of now, it’s supposed to be a forum where people can share their experiences and photos of the hikes that they’ve been on, and then also trying to get into the aspect of linking places to go and things to do with volunteer experiences that are at those places,” Street said.
“I’m really advocating for people to send in volunteer experiences that they were able to do, or things that they did on their own, picking up trash in a park.”
The GU community has a history of being involved with environmental cleanup initiatives according to Carrie Herrman, vice president of Gonzaga Environmental Organization (GEO).
“It’s really wonderful at Gonzaga, in terms of gathering people together to accomplish any kind of environmental goal because there are a lot of different support systems, as well as students who are resourceful and can understand how to play off of those and get people working together,” Herrman said.
GEO, which celebrated Earth Day with several events on campus last week, often hosts projects focusing on environmental sustainability.
“Gonzaga itself is pretty clean, around the trail it gets kind of messier,” Herrman said, referencing GEO’s Lake Arthur cleanup last week. “We found some trash around the lake, but it was actually more clean than we thought it would be.”
“There are so many different avenues you can go in terms of social justice, and environmentalism is just one of them,” Herrman said.
Herrman also noted that students don’t have to wait for an official event to have a positive impact on the environment.
As Clear the Path emphasizes, even something as simple as gathering a group of friends to pick up trash in a park makes a difference.
“It’s not hard to inspire people, because people like living in an area that is cleaner and more aesthetic, and somewhere they can stretch out on a lawn and feel comfortable, and not feel weird about their environment,” Herrman said about student involvement in cleanup initiatives.
Madeline Keckler is a contributor.