Earth Care

Yesterday, I celebrated Earth Day. Caring for the Environment has always been important to me since the time my parents taught me to weed a garden. My Freshman year in High School, I served as the Environmental Chair on the Student Council (because the president thought I was cute and wanted to get me involved) and I made my first trip to the Environmental Protection Agency in downtown Chicago. While teaching Elementary School children, I planned lessons for a full week of Earth Science. One year the janitor gave latex gloves to my whole glass so we could pick up litter off the play ground. We filled an entire bag with unseemly things. So, today I walked around one city block where I have spent the winter and filled two big brown garbage bags. There were a few glass bottles, but most of what I picked up were shiny wrappers from snack packages carelessly dropped on the ground. I just didn’t bother with the one thousand cigarette butts- hopefully they are biodegradable. Butts are literally the new sidewalk cement. There were plastic bottles and a pizza box along with many brown bags from the local Burger King. I did not take time to examine every paper item. One man from the construction crew across the street walked past me and said, “There’s an endless job”. No one offered to join me or help, even though there was a large group of neighbors sitting outside relaxing. ( I am sure they thought me a little off center). In fact, when I returned to the front of my building where I started, it was once again littered with refuse from those waiting for the bus! Endless job is right. I tied the first bag up and put the whole thing in the garbage bin right there on the corner. It did occurred to me that I might be interfering with those who trash dive for bottles to recycle for money, but doesn’t garbage belong in the can? After a break, I filled the second bag while walking down the block in the other direction. Hannah helped a little this time while catching me on film. We learned that it is so easy to ignore the litter on any given day, but when we focus on the problem, it is apparent that garbage has insinuated itself deeply into the shrubs and is scattered about everywhere. It is an unsightly problem. Even collected and sent to a landfill, waste is still a problem. What can we do about all this garbage? If I suggest we abolish the whole snack industry -unhealthy consumables and packaging- I imagine I would invite many angry rebuttals from those who have factory jobs to those who are CEO’s of the sweets and salty industry. So, I will just say, “Please use the garbage cans and keep your butts off the ground.” This public service announcement was brought to you by one earth mother. Long live the earth.image