Having grown up in rural Sonoma County, California, Ben often observed the high amounts of trash blowing in from surrounding areas. As a young child, he would often spend his summers backpacking at different camps, such as one in Pt. Reyes which had a lasting impact. During the camp whenever the kids were leaving a site they were asked to pick up at least one piece of trash in order to leave the area nicer then they had found it. Although a small act, the idea of picking up litter to create a better world would eventually blossom into a passion to help others and the environment.
Growing up, his passion for the outdoors was somewhat dormant. It was not until he reached college and graduate school that the interest in sustainability and a cleaner planet began to arise. Ben spent a few years in Los Angeles for law school which he soon discovered he did not have a passion for. Instead he cofounded a community arts organization and eventually moved to running a co-working space. During this time, he found himself focusing more on the increasing amounts of trash, such as plastic water bottles, that were accumulating in natural places such as parks.
Although having loved LA, Ben moved back to SF in August of 2016 to begin exploring and experimenting with different ways to help people and the earth, which is where the counting of litter and many other things began. The idea to tally the amounts of litter he collected started in February when he was doing an art project with a clicker that was left over so he thought he would count trash- it became somewhat of a competitive game between himself and his friends.
For instance, at Dolores Park Ben and his friends will go and see how fast they can pick up 100 pieces of litter. Ben uses the word Moop for trash which is a term that comes from the art festival Burning Man. Moop stand for matter out of place (man made poop). Sometimes in addition to counting the litter he will take pictures as well. Although he does keep a monthly count of the trash he picks up, he is still unsure of where he wants to take the idea as it is so new.
Over the summer he began getting into outdoors mentorship and education programs such as Big City Mountaineers. He mentored one of their youth trips where they take underserved urban youth on week long expeditions. He became very engaged but he is exploring where he would want to have his singular focus. Ben currently works at Patagonia which he loves because Patagonia takes a lot of responsibility around materials they use and the culture is great. He is also working on a neighborhood parks project where they have adopted public land adjacent to a public stair case and they are working on rehabilitating the area. Although extremely engaged, Ben hopes to find a singular focus in the near future, and put his passions into one place.
Thanks, Ben, for making the world a little bit better!