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I love my new hobby so much. It’s free and it gets me out in the fresh air. This new hobby also allows me to exercise more and meet new people. My new hobby is: picking up litter. I love living in Santa Clarita for many reasons, one of which is the wonderful paseo system we have in Valencia, which weaves its way through our neighborhoods. I tell myself that while I’m walking, I might as well pick up litter.

I’m thinking of starting a club called “The Litter-Picking and Coffee Club”. I hope others will join. I even started brainstorming with my wife about three club rules I could establish: (1) Safety First, (2) Have a Happy Heart, and (3) Make Friends. It occurred to me that these are also three common sense rules for any workplace.

Safety first

I was pleased to read the latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the number of fatal workplace injuries has decreased from the past year. But one death is one too many. I was shocked to read not only that there were 4,764 workplace fatalities last year, but also that approximately 120,000 workers died from occupational diseases.

As employers and workplace leaders, we must continue to do all we can to make the workplace as safe as possible. Safety should always be our first priority over profits.

have a happy heart

For most of us, a large portion of our life hours are spent working. In fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime, according to a recent Gettysburg College study. It’s safe to say that our work can have a huge impact on our quality of life.

My belief system is that we only live once, so why not try to have peace with everyone as much as it depends on you? The workplace is just a collection of people trying to get things done, and therein lies the problem. So many people spend their days biting and biting others rather than focusing on the task. Poor work relationships can be a major cause of stress in a person’s life.

Recently, on one of my walks to pick up litter, an angry passerby was appalled at the amount of litter I had picked up. She bitterly expressed how much this annoyed her, saying, “I really don’t like a lot of people at all”, and left never to be seen since. I wonder if this is the same person whose Wi-Fi address shows up as “I hate people”.

When we start the litter picking club, I don’t want people to get angry hearts picking up litter. Unfortunately, people will always litter. I can choose to be bitter about it or focus on making the neighborhood look better. Either way, the effort invested is the same but I have found that the internal returns are much better if I choose the latter.

To make friends

According to the annual Gallup Workplace Survey, one of the main reasons people stay at work is that they have at least one colleague they would call a friend. As an employee, I found the people principle to be so true.

I thought this might be a good rule for the trash club: we have a job to do, but let’s make friends while we do it. Guess that’s why I tagged the “coffee” part on the club name.

So, there are my three simple rules for the yet-to-be-launched trash and coffee club, and I think they make sense in the workplace: (1) Safety of first (2) Have a happy heart and (3) Make friends.

Oh, and a good leader makes for a great place to work, and my wife oversees my trash pick-up. Sometimes she sees things with her super vision that I didn’t get and sometimes she even helps me, which is what a good manager does.

I hope you’ll join my club — our neighborhoods and workplaces need you.

Paul Butler is a resident of Santa Clarita and a client partner of Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].