Rather than spending the Black Friday waiting in lines at stores, many people chose to be outdoors making a positive impact on their community. The local outdoor retail company, Keep Nature Wild, hosted their second annual Impact Friday Cleanup at Lake Pleasant. The company’s mission is simple: Build communities by picking up trash outside. For every product purchased, one pound of trash is picked up.

Outdoor apparel, picking up trash and building community may not seem like they go together, but for Keep Nature Wild, it’s the core of the company. Cleanup events are hosted on a monthly basis throughout the year and they’re most often described as fun and easy. The events are managed by company staff which means they get to see firsthand the impact being made.

“We appreciate any amount of time a volunteer is able to give. We are conscious that everyone has busy lives and want to make it worth their while. We keep our events short and as fun and simple as possible. We encourage our volunteers to spend time meeting new people and making friends. We do a lot of outreach online, but believe people should connect in real life,” says co-founder Cameron Jarman.

For Impact Friday, over 400 people were in attendance to clean up the southern section of Lake Pleasant. In just two hours, 6,781 pounds of trash was collected. Since the company was founded in 2016, a total of 156,978 pounds of trash has been collected by volunteers through cleanup events and the many volunteers around the world called Wild Keepers.

Keep Nature Wild has a goal to pick up 1,000,000 pounds of trash by 2023. They believe this can only happen with everyone working together. “Small efforts by individuals can collectively make a big impact,” said co-founder Sean Huntington. “We originally started selling shirts to fund cleanups and getting more than 400 people together at a single event to clean up trash is just phenomenal.”
Everyone attending a cleanup is there to pick up trash, but there are many secondary reasons people join. One volunteer at the Lake Pleasant Cleanup stated, “My wife and I bring our kids to cleanups to teach them about civic duty. It’s easy and fun, so it’s the perfect example to get our kids involved.” Other people are interested in meeting other like-minded people and some just want to spend time in the outdoors.

Keep Nature Wild has successfully built a community of people that “stand for what we stand on.” Through sales and a community-first attitude, they have become a resource that people can depend on to take responsibility for the wild spaces that everyone freely enjoys.

Everyone is invited to participate in the cleanup events, including friendly puppies (the more the merrier). Even if you are unable to attend an event, you can still participate from anywhere around the world by picking up trash and logging your weight collected on their website. Visit their website www.keepnaturewild.com to find out more about how you can get involved. Make sure to check out their many regional Facebook groups around the US to find a community nearest to you!