In the long ago, among my early motives to pick up litter was to make myself useful. If I was going to walk, why not walk along with a secondary purpose. And a bag.
The overriding sense was to make my neighborhood a little cleaner, reclaim non-organic materials for the recycle bin and perform a civic – and oftentimes filthy – public service. It made me feel good.
Those preambles haven’t changed.
Still, there’s still some amazement that others who share my path shy away from, or steer clear of altogether, the very idea of picking up junk that shouldn’t be there.
Case in point this morning. A couple was walking my way on Sharon Road and as we got within 25 yards or so of each other, the man kicked aside a plastic Mountain Dew bottle that rested on the edge of the sidewalk.
Now, I’ve seen this duo before and while we pleasantly nod and genially say ‘hello’ as we pass as ships in the night, they are never seen (at least by me) with litter in their hands. It gripes me a little bit that after we pass each other, invariably more trash will be found on the sidewalk they had just travelled.
What I want to say to them, but haven’t (I must be a closet coward), is ‘Would it kill you to pick up that Chick-Fil-A polystyrene cup or that plastic Coke bottle?’ I dunno, maybe they think I’ll have their backs on trash they continuously bypass.
Really, trash and litter control is one thing at a time. Just remove that one thing, that one piece of junk. If only – and a big if only – we could convince people to pick up that one thing, our neighborhoods, streets and byways – and local environments – would be a lot better off.
Alrighty then. The seven day piece-by-piece litter audit begins in ernest.
There are three chock-ful bags waiting in the wings to be dumped on the driveway. Each stinking, lousy, fetid chunk of junk will be hand counted. I’ve always wondered out of morbid curiousity how many individual pieces are picked up but for one reason or another, have never gotten around to it. Or had the discipline to do the laborious tally.
The count will be labeled by day and I wonder if the counts will fall as the seven days goes along, owing to the possibility that the prior day’s haul will lessen the available amount of trash to be picked up. The audit may be a victim of its own success.
If you join me in creating your own audit trail – akin to the Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count – then please, please, please send me your totals, photos and any running commentary and I’ll post it here (and, just so you know, thanks to my friend and fellow trash picker upper, Bob Furstenau, we now have a Pick Up Your Path Facebook page). You should post photos, environmental news and commentary there, too.