Tuesday, October 8, 2013


My son is taking gymnastics through our local community education, and we have made the choice to walk to and from class every week. It's about a mile from home, so it's an easy walk through the city. Every time we start out, we notice how much trash is on the lawns of the houses we pass (there are no sidewalks on most of our route).

Today while Khai was in class, I noticed that one of the tables provided for parents to wait at was covered in plastic bags, snack wrappers and drink bottles. Since this was the last unoccupied table, I supposed that someone would be right back, so I sat on the floor.

By the end of class it was clear that these snacks were abandoned, and that no one was going to come and pick them up. So. Khai and took the bottles to the recycle bin (not more than 20 feet from the tables), and set everything but the plastic bag in the trash.

I have never seen a person so enthusiastic to pick up garbage. Every time he saw a peice, he shouted "I spy trash!" and ran to pick it up. It gave us a lot of chances to talk. Why is the trash here? Where should it go? What can we leave, and what do we need to pick up (for the record, we can leave dead mice, corn cobs and dandelion stems)? It was an opportunity for me as a parent to not only teach him about having respect for the earth and those around us, but also looking at what we use, and why we might choose something different.

So much trash!
When we got home I was really surprised how much trash (and recyclables) we had collected on our not-even-one-mile walk. It made me reflect on all the times that I watched my grandmother throw trash out of the car door when I was a child, and how sometimes I don't go after the scraps of paper, or the renegade bottle if they fall out of my car when I get out. Someone has to clean that trash up, and if not someone, then something. Some poor bird or squirrel is going to eat that wrapper or bottle cap, and probably die. And why did I need that soda anyway? Where was my reusable water bottle?

It was an opportunity for me to reassess where I am on my green journey. I've recently replaced my reusable utensil set (my fork broke after several years), and I have re-upped my commitment to using my reusable water bottle/thermos when I need water, coffee, tea, or whatever.

Hopefully when my children are older, they will decide to make these commitments too.