Just who are those people you see with vests and grabbers walking along the roadside picking up other people’s trash? This article features an interview with one of these dedicated members of Keep Our Mountains Beautiful, Carla Rajnus.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I have lived in Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, Livingston, Montana, and moved to Oakhurst a couple of years ago. Wherever I’ve lived, I have found myself picking up litter. When my son was young, he saw it as a scavenger hunt. He had quite a collection with a focus on metal objects. In Portland, I was also involved in creek restoration and other “green” projects, an important part of that culture.
There are many volunteer opportunities in the Mountain Area. What attracted you to picking up roadside litter and supporting Keep Our Mountains Beautiful?
I am involved with many other groups here - the Sierra Senior Hikers, Yosemite Western Artists, Positive Living Center, Oakhurst Area for Peace, Democrat Club, Sierra Audubon and the Threshold Choir. A friend told me about KOMB and since I had resumed picking up trash as I walked here, now only with my dog, I decided to join. It is such a beautiful area, I am happy to contribute. I feel better when litter isn’t there and I don’t have to see it. So whenever I spot it as I walk my dog, I pick it up. It is especially satisfying to see a big stretch of road cleared after the KOMB group has done its work.
Have you ever found anything really interesting or valuable while picking up litter?
Once, I found a $10 bill along China Creek. Last year, hiking up to Vernal Falls in Yosemite, I found a shiny earring on the paved trail and when I took it to the jeweler, he said that he would give me $225 for it as it was a diamond! Of course, I am not always looking down as we have such magnificent scenery here.
Do you have an interesting story related to your cleanup efforts?
When we moved to Livingston, Montana we enjoyed walking along the Yellowstone River at a popular dog walk area known as Mayors Landing. It was a boat launch area and along with debris from fisherman and rafters, we began noticing various other objects such as old glass bottles and ceramics. We later learned that the area had once been a landfill back in the 40s. I still have some of those items as they really are “collectibles.”
What is your pet peeve?
Broken glass and fishing hooks, both dangerous for dog paws or little kids. Also, the amount of plastic litter that seems to be everywhere.
What message would you like to give the public?
I feel we have a responsibility to our environment and planet to take care of it. Also, there is often value in thrown out trash. Sometimes, an object I have found appears in a piece of my art.
For more information about KOMB, call Sandee Scott at (559) 760-1058 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.