Whether you’re alone, with friends, your kids or dogs, our local parks are a great place to spend an hour or an afternoon. They offer an escape from work, school, being indoors and from the devices we’re so attached to now. I use my local Canyon Country Park as an alternative to the gym, and walk up and down the hill a few times a week. When I went this morning to stretch my legs and enjoy the hills and scenery, I was shocked and dismayed at the state of the park. Perhaps I shouldn’t say shocked, exactly. As an English instructor who teaches about important topics like food and health, opportunity in America, gender issues, and trash and recycling—I know that humans are not always good at being responsible (or at cleaning up after themselves). Canyon Country Park looked like an Easter explosion. Scattered all over the grass and sidewalks were bits of confetti, colorful crushed egg shells, plastic filler for baskets, candy wrappers, plastic egg shells, cups, plastic bottles, plates and other remnants from the fun times people had yesterday. You could tell some effort was made to be tidy, as the trash cans were all over-flowing. But, so much trash simply can’t be cleaned up by one city worker whose job it is to keep our neighborhood parks maintained and presentable for us to enjoy. I had the chance to speak to the city worker who has the formidable task of cleaning up not just Canyon Country Park, but three others after this Easter explosion. Starting the conversation with, “You have your work cut out for you.” I told him I couldn’t believe how much trash was left everywhere. The friendly man (regrettably, I didn’t get his name) told me that he just isn’t able to get to everything that needs to be cleaned. He is just one man, and has to empty trash cans at Canyon Country Park before moving on to other nearby locations that are presumably just as messy. Shaking my head, we discussed his impossible task, and I left after thanking him for his hard work. Don’t trash our planet—that’s all I could think of as I left the park. Not only is it impossible for city employees to clean up every scrap of trash that people leave behind at the park, but this trash affects the environment around us. Pets, birds and wild animals eat it. It eventually makes its way into the streets, storm drains and oceans, where the plastic floats for decades and finds its way to beautiful distant beaches. And, I’m sure we all know how trash affects marine life. One picture of a sea turtle with a straw up its nose, or a dead whale or bird with a stomach full of trash is more than I care to see. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s absolutely fixable. Of course there are the obvious things: pick up your trash (“pack it in, pack it out”), teach your kids to clean up their mess in public areas, and don’t let your friends litter. But, the older I get, the more I realize that I should not just be responsible for my trash, but for the overall cleanliness of my street, neighborhood and community in general. Why should I complain and do nothing about it? When I walk down my street, go to Canyon Country Park or hike Placerita, I’ve started taking a bag and picking up the trash others leave behind. My hope is that my fellow Santa Clarita residents see this not as a disgusting chore, but as necessary maintenance. If you enjoy a clean street, neighborhood, hiking trail and an ocean, do your part where you live. Don’t trash our planet. Jess Grosh is a Canyon Country resident. Editor’s note: A Santa Clarita city spokesperson said backup help is available for city workers who clean parks after major events.