Neighborhood Clean-up Reflections

11 07 2008

Through my work I volunteered for some neighborhood clean-ups over the last week. Four to be exact, one per week day. There was supposed to be a fifth today but it was postponed due to the outrageous heat index. Here are my reflections on the experience:

Day 1 – There is only so much time a person can spend picking up cigarette butts. I’ll admit it, I use to smoke. At that time I didn’t give a second thought to tossing my cigarette butts out the car window or putting them out on the sidewalk with the sole of my shoe. Granted it was the late 80s and I was pretty young, but I now feel ashamed. The amount of cigarette butts we picked up and the resulting smell was simply disgusting.

Day 2 – You can tell a lot about a neighborhood by the trash you find. The next time I move I’ll consider picking up trash in the prospective neighborhood for an hour or so. It’ll be research on my investment.

Day 3 – Picking up trash is like weeding a garden. No matter how many times you go over an area there always seems to be more. The pieces just get smaller.

Day 4McDonald’s is bad for the environment… in more ways than one.

Help make your neck of the woods a little cleaner. Try one of the following:

  • Take a walk with a friend/child/pet/yourself to pick up trash. Bring a plastic grocery bag (along with gloves) and don’t go home until it’s full. I use to do this weekly with my dog, until she got too old and I had children. I miss it.
  • Check with local green groups and sign up for an organized clean-up event
  • Organize an event yourself through work, your block club, your play group, anything. If you’re in a book club, consider gathering the group together to pick up trash around the local library. Many townships will provide you with bags, gloves and pickers if you ask. They’ll even do a special garbage pick up at the locale. All you have to do is pick a date and get out the word. Induce people to help with food or, as we did, the bonus of being able to wear jeans to work.
  • At a minimum, make sure the properties you live and work on are properly cared for. Be a land steward for an inch or a mile. Every bit counts.

All it takes is a half hour. What do you do to help clean up the world?




5 responses

11 07 2008

Great reflections!
And thank you for your inspiring reminder for us all to do our part in picking up after each other. I remember when I was a child my mother would pick up trash when we went to a park or beach. At the time, I just thought it was a mother thing. Now I see that it was her mother nature thing!

14 07 2008
painted fish studio

i’m happy to read friday night was canceled! it was just too thick out there to be picking up ciggie butts. it’s great that you’ve done so much work for the communities you’re involved in.

15 07 2008

I volunteer as a conservation volunteer with the National Trust for Scotland and one of the jobs we used to do was a litter pick along the road through Glencoe, one of the most scenic routes in Scotland, and we would frequently find McDonalds bags and straws and the nearest McDonalds was 19 miles away!!

Good for you with all that litter picking last week! I was building a boardwalk to the beach at a National Trust property this weekend – it was fun.

17 07 2008

Great post! Every now and then we have a day where the family goes and picks up trash. It is amazing how much stuff people throw out. Shame on them!!

24 07 2008
Sarah S

I was riding with my parents this weekend and my mom went to roll the window down to toss her piece of dental floss…I thought my stepdad was going to drive off the road. They fought for 20 minutes over whether floss is plastic or paper and if either should really determine if it should be tossed along I-94. Though this could be a prime example of my upbringing (parents screaming, at 80mph, about dental floss, yet insisting they aren’t fighting), but mostly it made me realize how many adults in my neighborhood just toss their empty chip bag, pop can, scrap paper on the ground when walking down the sidewalk or standing at the bus stop. Has everyone forgotten the commercial of the Native American chief crying at the garbage piles washing up along the shore? Crazy.

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