Does anyone remember the advertising campaign, “Keep America Beautiful“? It began in 1970, the one with the crying Native American. Well who knew that 50 years later I would remember that? Ha! The quote at the end is still relevant today, “People start pollution, people can stop it”! This is a story about the power of one.
The health of the planet is near and dear to my heart. Since a lot of the snow has melted, a tremendous amount of garbage has appeared in our neighborhood and along the roadside, highways and especially the intersections. I have been going out with a bag and gloves on my walks and picking up trash until my bag is full and returning home. It doesn’t take long to fill the bag.
I reached out to the managing director in my community to see if she could help to organize a clean up. She came up with the idea of doing it on Earth Day and provided garbage bags, gloves, water and bug spray! About 25 families came to help, (with proper social distancing of course)! We started with our own neighborhoods and felt so empowered after completing the local task that we continued out of the neighborhood to a major intersection and roadway and cleaned that up too! I really believe in the phrase, “Be the change you want to see,” and it was great to inspire other like minded people to help clean up some of the trash around here!
Lend a Hand
Park City, Utah is super windy. You can set your watch to 11:45 when it starts blowing every day. One of the things we realized is that much of the trash we were picking up had been blown out of the receptacles at the 7/11 across the street and out of the construction dumpsters that were missing their covers at the sites around the neighborhood. These are easy things to address. Bigger issues are getting people to dispose of their trash or recycle it or better yet, not have trash in the first place. Reusable water bottles, not buying pre-packaged goods, getting your meat at the butcher counter instead of the refrigerated case, every little bit helps. According to the EPA, only 9.1% of plastic material generated in the U.S. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) stream was recycled in 2015. Another 15.5% was combusted for energy, while 75.4% was sent to landfills. The Park City Recycling Center is asking for donations when you drop off cardboard as they have to pay to have it recycled as well. Now that everyone is staying at home and ordering what they need to be shipped, there will be even more cardboard out there.
It is a bit depressing and overwhelming for sure but if each one of us tries a little bit harder to reduce their trash and pick up what you see when you can, it will go a long way to reviving America to be beautiful! The power of one is not to be underestimated.