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Archive for April 3rd, 2010

I spent the past forty-five minutes walking the dog on this beautiful day, the 80° of sunshine more than my Northern European temperament could handle. Much to the dismay of my miniature canine friend, I brought gloves and an oversized trash bag to pick up litter along Major Lane. This had no appeal to her as the heat of noon intensified and her leash was jerked with each passing car. I had several revelations along the way.

The first epiphany I had was this: McDonalds, all “fast food” venues (but especially McDonalds) or “snack” producers (chips, candy, etc.) should be charged a surtax for every cup, bag, wrapper and straw they dispense with the fare they deem “food”. Ditto the beverage and cigarette industries for the cans, plastic bottles and butts (what percentage of cigarette butts would you estimate properly makes it to a trash receptacle?). Half of this tax should be distributed to the small municipalities that are being swallowed by their rotting refuse, and half should be put toward developing rapidly degradable packaging. Better yet, these industries should be directed to produce permanent packaging (flash back 100 years): collectible plates, glasses, bottles and utensils that people’d sooner keep than toss from a moving car.

My second epiphany was this: if each of us spent just fifteen minutes every few days picking up a place we notice growing candy wrappers, cups and plastic shopping bags, our communities would be remarkably more attractive. So, here’s my challenge, over the next six warm months, I dare you to take responsibility for cleaning up the dirty, forgotten spaces that we only subliminally notice, but when harvested will have a dramatic impact on the perceived beauty of our City. I’m only asking for 15 minutes now and then. Invite your friends and kids.

I dare you.

BTW: the City-wide Clean-up will be on April 24th. More information to come…

Addendum: My family left soon after my post to pick up a couch we ordered. I opted to stay and made my way back up with two more bags to finish what I’d started: the last half, and most heavily trashed, section of drainage ditch. It took me a little over an hour. Picture a middle-aged, overweight, really florid woman, panting, shaking, swelling and maniacly determined to make it to the end of the street. My heart strained at the effort and I won’t be able to remove my rings tonight. I went through three pairs of plastic gloves, but finally made it to Brandt Place. A kindly neighbor took the two sacks of garbage I’d gathered and promised to put it out for me on collection day. I began the walk back, watching the heat mirage along the road ahead of me. A nondescript car (because I can’t tell the difference between brands of automobiles) paused at the stop sign halfway down the road, tossed a brightly colored McDonalds bag into the ditch, and waved as they passed me.

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