As my youngest son and I walked our dog in the woods near our house, he noticed me picking up pieces of glass that litter part of the trail. Neighbors who have lived in the ‘hood longer than I told me the glass pieces are remnants of an abandoned car that used to rest there.
My son asked me what I was doing. I explained that for years, I’ve pick up five pieces of glass every time I walk the trail in a long-term effort to clean it up. I do it as long as the trail’s not covered by snow. My son said something like, “You should get an award for that.”
“I’m not doing it for recognition,” I told him. “I’m doing it to make our neighborhood a nicer place to live.”
That gave him something to think about.
So it is with interest I read the story circulating in the news lately about a man from the Netherlands who is doing something similar for a river that he walks along on his way to work. He picks up one bag of trash there every day.
He took photos of his progress and made a Facebook page about it (Project Schone Schie – which means the project to clean the River Schie). Eventually, neighbors noticed and began to help. The project went viral and he started a movement where other people are cleaning up trash on their daily routes. The news stories say people all over the world have been inspired.
I’m glad people are caring about the environment and their neighborhoods. As a kid, I used to organize neighborhood clean-ups of the vacant lot across from my house. A budding public relations professional, I even had a name for the campaign – the Kit Kat Kleanup Klub. I’m not sure my parents appreciated the increased garbage bill, but the work felt good and it was fun. Throughout my career, I’ve organized annual beach sweeps and helped with other clean-up efforts.
But now that I am older, I am content with quietly picking up my five pieces of glass. It’s meditative. It’s slow. It takes discipline to limit myself to only five pieces. I guess I don’t want the job to be over too soon.