On an unseasonably warm January morning, my dog and I walked our standard walk and entered the field in front of the neighborhood clubhouse where she was unleashed to run and burn off some energy. Today someone had decorated the field with Silly String which was a benign addition to the landscape as it quickly disintegrated when touched. What caught my attention on this day was the abandoned can of the artwork and as I looked around I noticed the remains of firework festivities strewn throughout the field. The image left me sad and posed the question why I felt the need to be a steward to this patch of land. Maybe the journey to that field almost daily filled me with a desire for it not to change in any way. The field represents a sense of freedom for my pet, a wide-open space where she can run freely. It also is an area where children play and festivities are routinely held. Does anyone else notice or care?
I recall the 1971 Keep America Beautiful campaign that depicted the crying Native American Indian upon seeing the site of litter and pollution. More recently, a 2014 episode of Mad Men featured the main characters having a pleasant family picnic outing, but ended with the main character pulling up the picnic blanket and casting all the litter on the ground with no remorse in leaving it behind. So it seems we have not changed for the better over time.
I wish there was a steadfast way to deal with the issue of litter across our vast nation and more specifically to my little area. I often see younger persons as offenders, but I equally see adults turning a blind eye.
So what is the answer, how do we solve this? My hope is that everyone at some point will have the proverbial light bulb go off and realize the damage they are singlehandedly creating. Public service messages, activist demonstrations, volunteer activities, etc. may help to drive the message, but in the interim I will continue to do my part to pick up the slack where needed. It is unrealistic to think there will ever be a perfect world in which we no longer have to deal with litter. It will continue to be as prevalent as taxes. I love nature and viewing a pristine landscape. I care because I love the world around me and I know there are countless others that feel the same. There comes a point where we have to stop complaining about the issue and start contributing to the solution by making a positive difference. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t sit back and wait for someone else to make the difference. Step up, take control, and be part of the solution. As a side note, I deposited all the trash photographed into the clubhouse trash cans with a total effort of less than 10 minutes expended…and I felt good about what I had done. Choose to make a difference!