Today’s hike trumped the waste reduction handbag kit, so here we are!
The two minute clean up movement has been so fantastic to watch over social media. If you don’t know what it is, go peek on Twitter and see all the piles of litter being collected off beaches by people, world over. Not that sporadic beach clean ups are going to save our oceans or the poor animals in it, but we will take anything at this point.
Beaches are just a little irrelevant to us right now in Canada, what with being in the deep freezer here and all. But rubbish is everywhere, no? What about a two minute park or street or lake or library or somewhere-else-public clean up? We could easily fill an entire garbage bin with the number of plastic bottles, RECYCLABLE plastic bottles (!), that my son and I have picked up from our local park in the last six months. The dynamic of littering is something else too. I have witnessed teasing, loud guffawing when one in a group decides to do the right thing and put waste in its appropriate place. When people complain or suggest otherwise, even if in a friendly manner, their cars are egged and tyres flat the next morning. Such is the culture of apathy, disregard and hostility towards our environment that we have created around us.
My son and I went for a walk through a nearby forest this afternoon. We are in the low hills of coastal British Columbia, full of stunning temperate forests of wet moss and fir, dripping with mist and traversed by hundreds of gushing streams.
The streams support the fragile Pacific Coho salmon spawns and fry. The Coho is a severely threatened species due to strains of overfishing and nearby fish farms. So there we were, taking in the misty landscape and forest sounds. The last thing I expected to find was plastic litter all along the trail.
With the amount of water that we have here and the hundreds of new streams that will be birthed in spring, it is almost guaranteed that this waste will make its way into a body of water. There it will disintegrate into microplastic, leach toxins, entangle marine animals or be consumed. Equally alarming, it might end up back on our table. Three of these items are recyclable, including the can which can be recycled and be back on shelves in as little as 60 days.
We had brought a bag along and went into #2minparkcleanup mode. I betcha it will be back next time but we will be back for more too.
All the waste we collected today.
There are times when one sees so much waste that one doesn’t know where to begin. Seeing waste all over the park got a bit tiring at times. So these were my mental strategies:
- Expect to find crap lying everywhere and be prepared. I’ve gone out innumerable times and regretted not having something on me. So take a bag and do your 2 minutes.
- It is easier to do your 2 minutes than get frustrated about litter and waste. Taking action always tempers frustration. So do your 2 minutes.
- At some point, your mind will play the “what’s the point” trope. Don’t buy it. You won’t save the planet but a squirrel or two is better than none. So do your 2 minutes.
- No change ever came about from doing nothing. So do your 2 minutes.
- It is okay to dislike being watched or feel conscious, so if it floats your boat, do it on the sly! Me, I find doing it in plain vision of as many people as possible, with as big a smile as possible, gets more people into gear. It also gets people talking and we know how helpful that is. Whichever way, do your 2 minutes.
- No child ever learnt something from never having seen it. We desperately need the next generation to have some regard for the environment. It can be on your street, apartment building, a park, library, school, workplace, the options are endless. It will empower your child to watch you take the lead, so do your 2 minutes.
One last *rant alert*
Why would anybody bag doggy doo and then leave it in the bush? Why oh why?! Not one, not two, I counted six bags today. SIX! If you find yourself facing the moral dilemma (or laziness) of whether you should carry your dog’s poo out of a park, please please please, do NOT bag it!
Happy cleaning! Green up your trails.