Tag Archives: Volunteer

Trashy with a twist

For some people, living in third world countries, garbage is reality. Living among heaps of trash is part of life and you just become used to it, because there’s nothing to be done about it and nowhere else for all the junk to go. But I’m lucky enough to live in a country that has developed better ways to reduce, reuse and recycle that garbage to make  our country, our home, a little cleaner and a better place to live. So why do people insist on littering? Why do we continue to pollute the world we live in when we have alternatives? I’ve never understood it and I guess I never will, because I’ve always had the mentality that the Earth and the environment is a precious gift we’ve been given, not one to be taken for granted and one to be protected and cherished.

Side note: I once got my sister, her ex and I into a spot of trouble because of my passion to protect the environment. We were at a stoplight and the guy in the truck next to us rolled his window down, stuck his arm out and dropped a huge wad of paper onto the road. I called him an asshole out loud, but because my window was down, he heard us. He then proceeded to engage us in a “high-speed chase,” tailing us for about 20 minutes to try and scare us, acting like he was going to ram us. We eventually dodged him, but my sister was pretty shook up (having been the one driving) and her ex was not thrilled with me. I was most pleased with myself for having called this man out on his horrible behavior, and only hope my words serve him well in his future actions. Highly doubtful.

We found this "no dumping" sign by all the trash we collected. How appropriate.

We found this “no dumping” sign by all the trash we collected. How appropriate.

Back to the point, people are going to litter regardless of what I say or do to try and convince them not to, so it’s up to me and others like me to protect the environment (or so I’ve always believed). So I (finally) started a volunteer group with some friends and family to meet locally and pick up trash in the community. Today was the “inaugural” cleanup and although it was a very small group of us, it was still more than just me out there on the side of the road picking up trash like I used to do for fun. In my spare time. Because I have no life.

Anyway, I’m super excited I have friends and family who not only support my undying love for all things eco, but who get out there with me and share the same passion. It’s a truly great feeling to give back, even in small ways. It doesn’t have to be a global takedown (although I’m working on that one next); putting in any effort, big or small, is all it takes. And it feels good to do good.

And if I never see another cigarette butt again in my life, I will be all too thankful. Really, people, most cars- scratch that, ALL CARS- come equipped with an ash tray. It’s pretty standard. And they don’t put it there for you to keep change in (although that’s what I recommend using it for if you’re a nonsmoker, like me- very useful). And I don’t want to hear any crap about how putting the cig out in your car’s ash tray makes your car dirty and smelly. You should have thought about that before you chose to light up. The environment is not your personal ash tray, so stop acting like it. End rant.

In what ways do you and your friends/family give back to the environment? How can we continue to make a difference, even on a small scale?

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Filed under community, Environment, Uncategorized

Trash pick-up: not just for inmates and mandated community service

Imagine if this was your backyard.

What you don’t realize is this is your backyard.

Littering doesn’t just affect you when it becomes a personal issue, like having your lawn strewn with various soda cans, water bottles, food wrappers and other miscellaneous junk. It affects you and everyone else from the minute someone tosses an old cigarette butt out the window to the second trash falls off the back of the garbage truck. It may not always be 100 percent intentional, but it is 100 percent fixable.

I felt like a rugged Santa Clause this afternoon, delivering trash to dumpsters around the world. With my sunglasses on, my iPod turned up loud and a decent pair of latex gloves already sticking to my skin and making my hands soggy, I set off down the road with one purpose in mind: to pick up trash.

When I was younger, I used to recruit my friends to walk around the neighborhood with me and do this very same thing. We weren’t as successful, and I’m sure my parents didn’t appreciate the increased bill from Waste Management, but in our own small way we were making a difference. And that’s all that mattered.

Lately I’ve become more and more enraged with the current state of our environment. The world has become one big garbage-filled playground, and no one seems to notice or care. Sure, there are organizations that include trash cleanup as one of their priorities, but it never seems to be enough.

People need to start being responsible on an individual level, as well. I’m in the process of starting a volunteer organization that will allow me to recruit friends and activists from the surrounding area, getting together maybe a few times a month in different locations to assist in environmental cleanup. But in the meantime, I decided today was a perfect day to get started on my own.  I picked a local area of road near my house, so I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere. I didn’t give myself a time limit; the limit would be when the bag was full. When the trash bag became almost too heavy to carry home, and the sweat from my forehead started dripping into my eyes (they weren’t kidding, that really does burn), I knew it was time to call it a day. I checked my watch: I’d been out for an hour.

But in one hour I collected enough garbage to fill an entire trash bag.

My finds included a grungy t-shirt, an old CD, various bottles and cans, and a soggy towel.

One hour. There are 24 hours in one day, 8,760 hours in one year (yes, I used a calculator). Can you imagine how much trash we could remove from our parks, from our neighborhoods, from our sidewalks and highways if every person in the world spent one hour a year collecting trash? That’s math I can’t even do.

But I do know that it would make a huge difference in local, national and international ways. But until we take initiative, nothing will change.

So get out there, do it on your own, or with a few friends. Or find an org in your area that you can participate in. It’s okay if you don’t know where to start, the point is to just start.

Help keep our roads clean by not littering. If you don’t like trash littering your car, buy something to throw it in. Plenty of stores sell trash bags for your car, most of them under $20. There are easy ways to do your part and make a difference, big or small.

The point is to open your eyes. Realize that your actions and the actions of others, and more importantly, the inaction, is causing our environment to become dirty, polluted, destroyed.

But we can change that. We just have to be willing.

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Filed under Uncategorized