Small Things with Great Love — Trash Crusader

by twinink on August 15, 2010

We’ve all been here before… standing on the beach, or the street corner, counting pavement cracks or admiring our low-impact footprints in the sand. And suddenly we see it — a half-buried soda can or a flattened Snickers wrapper blowing like a tumbleweed down the traffic-jammed avenue. In that moment a chain reaction of triggers start firing in your brain like mental dominoes: Your first thought — the gut reaction — is to pick it up. This is almost immediately followed by the second thought –the inertia justification — but it’s not my trash! Next comes a pendulum tug-of-war that occurs within the emotionally exhausting span of .3 seconds —

If I don’t pick it up, who else will? But wait, I am not responsible for someone’s litter. I am a conscientious person and I can set a positive example… even this small act makes a difference. If I pick this up, I should probably pick up that trash bag over there, and that cigarette stub, and that coffee cup… and then when does it stop? Just pick it up and you will feel good because you know you did a good deed. Is anyone watching? If I’m gonna set a good example, I might as well make sure someone recognizes it.

By the time this little scenario plays out in your head, the wrapper has blown across the street, into a gutter, and is well on it’s way out to the sea, to join its plastic buddies in the great swirling “seafill” of the North Pacific Gyre. And you might shrug, say “oh well, next time I’ll definitely bend over”, and then proceed with your day.

Here’s my suggestion — go with your gut. Do not hesitate. Do not way to see if anyone else will take notice or action. Do not pass go. Just pick it up. Better yet, when you go out for your daily run… carry a bag.   And as you go, pick up as much trash as you can. Leave the path behind you cleaner than it was before you passed through.

It’s a simple thing to do. It requires little energy other than a slight bend at the waist, a swift sweep of the wrist. And it makes a difference. The road gets gradually cleaner. The turtles and the seabirds will squawk their thanks. People take notice. And even as that bag you carry while you comb the beach grows heavier, you just might glance back and notice that strangely magical phenomena… your footprints have grown that much smaller.

There goes an empty Doritos bag now… I better chase after it.

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