knee deep in coffee cups

Most days I take a walk through a ravine near my house. I go there with the intention of breathing deeply, letting my shoulders drop a little while I focus on the birds, the sometime deer or fox. More and more often, however, I find myself focussing instead on the ever increasing amount of debris along the way. Always a puzzling sight. Makes me wonder what sort of person, having decided to spend some time in the beauty and peace of nature, then decides to bung their garbage at it.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I’ve come to anticipate it; I keep my coat pockets stuffed with bags, hardly notice the birds some days.

And before anyone shrugs and says Ah, kids! What can you do? it’s not kids that are responsible for the majority of it. Most of the traffic is adults, lots of dog-walkers especially, and most of the debris these days, I’ve noticed, is take-out coffee cups.

Not that I’m saying anything.

Except this:

1) What is wrong with you People Who Can’t Take a Walk Without Coffee and Then Decide You Can’t Be Bothered Hanging on to the GD Empty Cup Until You Get to a Bin/Car/Home?

and,

2) Tim Horton’s, Coffee Time, Second Cup, Starbucks (for starters): here’s an idea—how about spending a few cents on an anti-littering campaign or two? Not that the disgusting habits of the population are your fault, but much of the dreck all over our streets, peering at us from ditches, advertising the next sale—does have your name on it.

Surely you feel at least some responsibility to clean it up…

As must our governments.  Surely.

Maybe they’d all welcome letters chock full of ideas? Here’s one: maybe run a nationwide contest for ideas.

Whatever. The point is we can’t just keep throwing this stuff around. And no, it’s not a small thing in the face of larger problems. It’s about respect: for the earth, animals, neighbours, strangers. And that’s not insignificant because if we can’t respect what’s in our own tiny space, no wonder we have larger problems elsewhere.

So, short of putting garbage bins on every corner (though not a bad idea), we need to get creative in changing the way we think.

One of the best anti-litter campaigns I’ve heard of hails from Texas where it seemed impossible to get the locals to stop littering until they were persuaded that it was not themselves, but the no-good, low-down, tourists and other out-of-state varmints (I may or may not be paraphrasing), that were the problem. The move not only convinced many locals to stop littering (not wanting to be put on the same level as tourists) but also increased a sense of ownership and pride in their surroundings. And it’s still going strong.

Doesn’t it just warm the heart to see the power of marketing—the power of anything—put to good use?  There is hope.

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