As it happens, each year around this time of the Great Melt, a plethora of garbage and litter become painstakingly evident along our walks, green spaces and lots. It is the devastating reveal after a long and heavy snow-covered winter. And it gets me in the same soft spot every year.
I am a garbage picker. My mother is a garbage picker. And I’m sure her mother was too. We willingly choose, as crazy and outlandish as it may seem, to pick up haplessly strewn garbage when seeing it lying on the earth. Gasp.
“Um you do know that there are town workers for that kind of thing.” A woman informed me the other day on one of my cleansing missions. I held a rather fat grocery bag of sodden waste dripping from my left hand at the time.
I am aware, to be clear, that town workers get out with their poky sticks at a certain time of the year and in the more travelled areas of town, stab a few pieces of eyesore up and outta there. If you ask me, I would much prefer my tax money going towards a more lofty cause- something I’m not able to easily rectify myself perhaps. What I was not aware of was that it is truly that offensive to want to clean up this place that I live on my own accord.
The war on litter and waste would be a hell of a lot easier to rein in if every resident of planet Earth would be a little more considerate. The toxins from a cigarette butt ill fatedly flicked onto the grass, for example, will undoubtedly seep into our earth and water. Now think about what the areas outside your local bar looks like. Piled with butts and garbage, I bet, and each one of those little chemical stubs will eventually infiltrate our land and lakes.
But we all know that don’t we? You don’t have to be a scientist to conclude that litter and excess waste is bad for the environment. We hear about filling landfills and floating garbage islands every day. So instead let’s look at it from a different angle- one that people from around my neck of the woods may understand a bit better. Money.
The amount of money we spend in taxes for pointless waste removal from our beach and walking paths is heinous. If each one of us picked up ten pieces of garbage on our walk to work, or the dog park, or wherever our little ol’ feet want to carry us, we wouldn’t be in need of paying these employees to do such for our own lazy and apathetic asses.
Even better, why not stop littering all together? Instead of watching that Wendy’s bag float out of your car like a thumb-up-your-butt-asshole, go and grab it, and shove it in a garbage can.
Our municipal government has passed a bylaw this summer to allow mobile food vendors into our town. Many a tourist passes through these parts in the summer months and I’m sure will be in seventh heaven when hitting up the convenience of some delicious to-go grub. Of course some of the more environmentally conscious individuals found this worrisome because of the amount of disposable food containers that will be being pumped out of these specific areas. Obviously with this in mind, the fear of even more litter accosting our beach and parks is palpable. The town council put this matter to rest quickly and with ease stating that of course they would be adding additional garbage cans to the areas where the vendors will be present.
I find this a laughable conclusion to come to seeing as how there is already a surfeit of garbage cans around the downtown core, due to excess foot traffic, and still, the good people of town and abroad choose to flip their butts and toss their trash aimlessly to the land. I’ve seen it many times first hand, our town looks like a dumpsite in the early hours of the morning during those busy summer weeks, sandwich wrappers, juice containers, and pop bottles all sully the ground. However eventually, before the tourists pile in, we pay unnecessary wages to multiple town workers to prettify something we, humanity, should do out of a deep-seated knowledge of simple mindfulness. Yet regrettably that notion has slipped away from many people nowadays.
There is a huge need surfacing, and not only in my meager town. It is the education of the earth and how we must stop mistreating this home we live on, for her sake and ours.
I for one will do as my mother did and teach my children how to recycle and sort as well as how to use a garbage can instead of the ground. It is painfully simple really. I will teach them how utterly despicable it is to allow a piece of their own trash to flit off their person and onto earthen soil; not once thinking about the consequences. And I will teach them there is no harm in picking up a few pieces of rouge garbage as they pass it by, how could there be?
Let’s create a generation of garbage pickers, and clean this mother up.