City of Garbage

This morning, as I walk into work, I am deeply saddened. I watch a squirrel, fur removed from its tail, determinedly gnawing on a french fry box. Unknowingly, I mutter “that’s not food, squirrel!” Thankfully, my potentially embarrassing habit of talking to animals has not been overheard. I begin to think about the unsightly amounts of garbage on my walk into work.

Sundays are my favourite work days. My floor is quiet, my office mates are enjoying their weekend, and I can turn up the music and zone out. I use Sundays as an opportunity to be more creative, work on those projects that can’t get interrupted, and clean. I take the opportunity to walk the longer route to work on Sundays; the way we direct the public to access the museum. On these beautiful paths, still in their infancy, I notice the plethora of garbage. Cigarette butts, gum, food packaging, nondescript bits of plastic. It is disheartening.

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Photo: wikipedia.org/wiki/urban_wildlife

What good is sharing a love of this planet when no one puts it into practice?

I realize not all garbage is littered by the hands of humans with bad intent. Raccoons are famous for tearing apart garbage bags, but do they smoke? Do they spit their gum on the sidewalk? Do they abandon their coffee cups under benches, forgotten to the drinker, but remembered by the earth?

I try not to be a doom-and-gloom communicator, but this is getting ridiculous. The University I work on is littered more heavily than my city.

Why does no one care?

Because it “isn’t their problem.” Countless conversations I’ve overheard put the blame on others. The meat industry, industry abroad, cars, whatever. But I’m eating organic, reusing containers, bicyling – I’m not the problem!
We are all the problem.

When you deny the problem exists, when you back down from your soapbox, when we all slip up from time to time, it’s our problem. That said, the small steps we change daily make a huge difference.

A call to action

I would like everyone to promise to do one thing better this month. At least 50% of the days in the month. Choose one from the list below or come up with your own:

  • Use reusable containers in your lunch (and bring them home and wash them)
  • Be better about composting and recycling
  • Pick up garbage outside, simply because it needs to happen – aim for ~10 minutes
  • Drive less, walk more
  • Quit buying stuff!

What’s mine this month? Be vocal. Be the annoying woman who brings these things up. Talk to friends and family about it. Inspire change.

And garbage. I am going to pick up garbage.

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