~ by Ingrid Webster
Really, we mean it. “We” refers to the group of walkers as part of the Love & Peace Society who meet about twice a week for a bit of easy morning exercise.
The lesser known sidewalks, curbs and shoulders of roads, along with adjoining areas can be a source of cheap but gratifying entertainment. But if your attitude tends to be of the glass half empty kind, picking up trash from those same strips along our roads can be an inconvenience, if not a trudge.
We chose to see it as an opportunity to have fun and be productive.
Zipping through the streets on the way to work isn’t the problem. From inside a car, it is impossible to fathom what’s wrong with the areas lining those roads. You can’t even see how much trash fills the sidewalks and curbs, unless you take the time and walk on them.
Back in January, I believe it was Norma and Lo, who had wondered whether we could pick up some litter here and there while out on our scheduled walks. It didn’t take long before our groups members agreed that they wish to do that, and at the same instant contribute to their community in a positive way.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. Because I was already aware of the litter problem, the post about an upcoming beach clean-up was something I paid attention to. You can read more about that beach clean-up: https://www.lovepeaceandbeads.com/2019/03/13/having-fun-at-the-beach-clean-up/
Things went fast from then on: enter Micah’s Challenge. My son’s friend and room mate had posted about a trash challenge, geared towards bored teenagers. It was a super cool idea: find an area that’s littered with trash and take a picture, then pick up the trash and photograph the result. Brilliant.
The Love & Peace Project decided to jump in on the fun and is offering 200 KR points to everybody who takes that challenge. Anybody can collect these KR points (“Kindness Reward” points) and exchange them for free stuff. And because it was Micah who promoted this post where I saw it first, the new initiative was named “Micah’s Challenge” in his honor. Get the whole story: https://www.lovepeaceandbeads.com/bmi/micahs-challenge/
But what about the logistics? A big community clean-up effort requires advertising, insurance, safety measures and other considerations that are too restricting for a fledgling group. So instead of organizing a big all-out clean-up event, we decided to make it more “digestible”, at least for now.
We each collect a grocery bag full of trash, twice a week. That way, the Florida brutal heat and humidity won’t discourage us, and it’s definitely very manageable for everybody. Better yet: over time, it completely clears out areas and leaves us very happy. It does not take long for results to come in.
When you are even slightly involved in any topic, you will find more relevant information about it by default. It sticks out, it’s as if the world all of a sudden and at the same time discovered what you just discovered. It’s no different here.
Since we had started paying attention to the litter problem, more info on all the media appeared seemingly out of nowhere. And that, dear readers, is hugely encouraging. Because the more people are doing something, the more others will join them. It’s part of our human nature, like eternal laws we can’t escape and only our Earth Mother Gaia can fully understand. (Or the Universe, God himself) Let’s not question the origin or purpose, let’s simply use it to our advantage, in a positive way to benefit all of us.
By way of this very phenomenon, I responded to a post from Wilie Puz, Director Public Affairs and Recycling for the SWA, who put me in touch with Linda Moreno to help out with supplies. After all, we needed more trash bags, grabbers and latex or Nitrile disposable gloves Not only did they come to the rescue with those items, they also treated us with sun protecting hats and t-shirts to help out.
Our group has now officially adopted the street sections we take for our frequent walks, and we have pledged to cleaning up and maintaining them. It is so rewarding to see the clean areas! But it gets even better when we hear about others doing the same…
Literally, countless groups are doing it. My friend Liza just told me about a group that she belongs to that does clean-ups north of us. Karen and her paddle boarding friends regularly remove trash from the outdoors. Melissa and her projects rid natural areas of unsightly and detrimental trash. And many more individuals perform that labor of love, silently and without anyone ever knowing about it.
The take away from this post?
It is necessary to reach people and educate them about a better community spirit. How it affects their own level of self image.
The desire to improve is out there, and it needs to be nurtured. It’s so hugely important that we motivate others. Good stuff becomes infectious when more people join in. We can make that difference, we can inspire in great numbers.
It takes constant inspiration to make people realize and acknowledge the problem. Only then can people’s behavior or their habits be changed.