I accepted a challenge last weekend to pick up five pieces of trash that day. I accepted because it’s easy and very good for the planet, as well as good exercise bending down to pick it up. I needed to go for my daily walk anyway, so it was a no-brainer to accept the challenge.
We prepared for our walk, shoes on, house keys, mileage tracker, etc. This time we also brought two plastic bags from the grocery store. (I know I should bring my own bag. That’s a habit I’m trying to develop. Meanwhile, I have way tooooo many of those things.)
The street in front of our house is about 100 feet away from our front door, so we start there with our trash pickup. Within the length of our property line, I had picked up fifteen pieces of trash. Far exceeding the five I had promised to do.
The bag was only about half full, so we turned the corner to get some more trash. Because frankly we were astonished with how much trash was just thrown out. Within ten minutes both my friend Charlie and I had filled up both of our bags.
At this point, I was thinking, well, I came out to get some exercise and to walk. But there is so much trash that I feel like I should spend my time picking it up. It was a dilemma I hadn’t faced before.
We decided to do both – pick up trash and get our walk in. We went back to the house (we hadn’t made it around a second corner yet. We weren’t far from home.) We threw our two original bags in our trash can and went inside for more. We brought three bags with us.
By the time we had walked two blocks, we had two bags filled. We threw those in the local quick shop’s bin because it was probably mostly crappy junk purchased from their store anyway.
We held onto the third bag for a little bit because we were out to get some walking exercise but the trash we were passing became almost like some sort of ghost calling us. It wasn’t too long and we started filling the third bag.
Mind you, we had already filled and properly disposed of four full bags at this point.
The fifth and final bag of garbage was 90% single use plastic beverage bottles!
So, I have two points about this endeavor.
- Combining trash pick up and exercising works but it feels like I’m not doing an effective job at either of them. So exercise or pick up trash. Also in some areas it may take you a while to pick up five pieces, but in my little town it took less than two minutes. Houston, we have a problem!
- The second point is that the vast majority of the trash was junk food and sugary beverages. When did we get so indoctrinated to purchase crap from the gas station? When did we start feeling like we had to have that thing with all the sugar just because it’s there? Has advertising and marketing done such a good job that we aren’t even conscious of our habits anymore?
There’s a soapbox with my name on it. But seriously, what is wrong with us today? Can we begin to answer that question?