roadside litter

There’s Nothing Like a Little Bit of Roadside Entertainment!

– 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.

road side litter
Really, folks? How hard is it to carry your empty packaging to the next trash bin? Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster

It’s amazing

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.

picking up roadside trash
Part of our twice a week routine: picking up litter off an easement during morning walks. Here is Norma Shearon doing the clean-up. Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster

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.

Gaining Insight…

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:

roadside trash
It’s one of the areas on our “wish list”, according to Carol Stratton. 🙂 Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster

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.

picking litter from a natural area
Amazing how much human refuse lies out in nature. You would think that mankind has grown up beyond that. Showing Ingrid Webster picking up litter from a grassy natural area. Photo courtesy of Norma Shearon

Kindness Rewards

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:

roadside litter
There is absolutely NO reason for all this trash being right next to our sidewalks. Especially the shopping cart in the canal… Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster

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.

picking litter
Norma Shearon and Carol Stratton (from left to right) in the process cleaning up a chosen area for litter removal. Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster.

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.

littered area
A specific area that got our attention and was the first where we picked up trash from. Norma Shearon and Carol Stratton, left to right. Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster.

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.

litter victory
That’s how winners look like! Beaming and accomplished, Norma Shearon is holding up grocery shopping bags that are filled with roadside trash. Good job! Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster.

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.

supply bags
Stocked up and ready to rock ‘n roll! Norma Shearon showing off some of the items which the SWA provided to help with the roadside clean-up. Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster

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.

road side litter
This hits home: you can find such deposits nearly everywhere. This one was photographed BEFORE it was cleaned up as shown in the picture all the way on the bottom of this post. Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster

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…

litter pick-up roadside
Another perfect day for walking and improving our immediate environment. Here’s Norma Shearon using her brand new grabbing tool to fill her bag. Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster.

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.

litter pick-up
So, maybe there are better things to do with one’s time, you may think. But nothing is more gratifying than to contribute to the community. Carol Stratton (shown) feels that way too. Photo (c) by Ingrid Webster.

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.

good job cleaning up
It really is not rocket science: “a bag a day keeps the trash away.” Left to right: Ingrid Webster, Carol Stratton. Photo courtesy of Norma Shearon.

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.

arms up in triumph
Norma Shearon thinks it feels really, really good to have a particular area finally completely free of litter! Image (c) by Ingrid Webster

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