Maybe it was because it was a tough morning. My 11-year-old had raging hormones, had a meltdown over a pair of shorts, and missed her morning carpool. I drove her to school in my pajamas, there was no parking, and she wouldn’t get out of the car. While trying to reason with her to get her out of the car and up the stairs to class (which may have involved tears – and not just hers), I spilled my full cup of coffee in the cup holder of the car, which wouldn’t be that bad except my iPhone was in it.
Dead iPhone, daughter alive and off to school. Doing okay considering. Got home just in time for a phone call from my son. He forgot his lunch in the car. Only he was ready in time for the carpool this morning, so he left his lunch in my neighbors car. Call my neighbor, get the lunch, head back to school.
Safely back at home, with my kids at school and not in danger of eating a “school-bought lunch” (the horror), I decided to go on a run to clear my head and reduce my stress level.
The sunshine, fresh air and exercise seemed to do the trick. But then right at the end of my run, two plastic bags stuck to the bushes, blowing in the breeze caught my attention. I quickly decided to try a little experiment. I picked up the bags and spent the last quarter mile of my run placing any trash I ran across into them.
I didn’t have to work very hard. Here is what I collected in under five minutes, just on one side of the street (no searching through bushes, only what was immediately noticeable) – coming up the entrance to my neighborhood in a nice, relatively clean community of South Orange County.
I thought to myself, “What am I doing? I’m trying to get people to compost, eat less meat, buy organic, and conserve energy, but we live in a world where people think it’s okay to throw all this trash out their car window.”
And so, when I got home, I tweeted this:
I half-way meant it. I feel sometimes like just giving up.
Then, on the way back to school for afternoon pick up, teenagers racing in two cars cut me off and then (as if mocking me) one tossed his drink out the window of his car right in front of me. It was about then, I was at the end of my rope and ready to give up. After ranting on Twitter again, some Twitter friends talked me off the ledge a bit and reminded me that there really are good people left and we haven’t lost all hope. Thank you Twitterverse.
So I’ve had some time to think about it, and I’ve changed my mind a little. I don’t totally give up, but I am frustrated. I just don’t know what it’s going to take for people to, I don’t know…well that day it was “give a sh…”, but today, I’m changing it to “care”, – to care about other people, to care about animals, to care about our oceans and beaches, to care about our environment.
My mom points out that the situation has actually improved a lot in the last, oh 50 years. She says that when she was a kid, the roadways were littered with trash. Then Lady Bird Johnson came along, with her “Beautification Campaign” to clean up the highways of America, and…well, the story goes on for awhile (as my mom's stories often do) but you get the point and can click on the link to check out the rest.
So, maybe it is getting better and I am just not seeing it right now. But, what I really want is not just “better”, I want us to live in a world where no one would dream of throwing beer bottles, fast food wrappers, cigarette butts, or anything else out the window. I want people to think about how all that stuff ends up in our storm drains, goes out to the ocean, and either ends up washed up on the beach, or floating away to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
But, unfortunately, that’s unrealistic, So if I want that for us, I know that the only thing I can do is do like Ghandi said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” I just wish I knew what to do to help get us there. For now, I’ll keep spreading my green message and hope that someone out there is listening and it does make a difference.
Well, I’ll do that, and get a new iPhone, so I can continue taking pictures of trash, Tweeting my frustrating about trash, and writing notes for stories about beach clean ups. Now, that part of it, I know I can do.