Before anybody outside of Eugene, Oregon gets it into their heads that every single resident of Eugene is a huge environmentalist, hippie, tree-hugger and overall caretaker of the planet, don't. That's not true of everybody who lives in Eugene. Especially me. I ain't no hippie. I'm not an environmentalist. And I don't live off of solar energy while commuting EVERYWHERE on a bike.
I don't do those things, think those things or act like those stereotypes.
But I DO care about the planet. And I just wish more people in Eugene did, too.
In a recent issue of the Eugene Weekly, a woman wrote to the editor saying she was not going to attend the Oregon Country Fair this year, because the littering was so very bad. I mean, there were even people leaving their babies' dirty diapers lying around!
And in a recent article in the Register-Guard, they ran a story of how the littering problem is VERY BAD in a local park. There were visitors at this park leaving behind so much trash and some of that trash went into a nearby lake. I was angered to read about how people just so callously threw their trash all over the place, not even caring about keeping their area clean. People were even going to the bathroom in the bushes! I was disgusted by all of this, but deeply moved at how a local homeless man was picking up the trash and trying to tidy up the park. (Now, see! Not ALL homeless people just lie around asking for booze or hand-outs!) A bonus for him: Getting some money from all of the cans he collected to buy food with.
I was upset about this littering problem, though, and I shared my opinions about it with Jennifer. She grew sad and said, "I want to do something to help the environment."
Well, picking up after ourselves is ONE thing we can do to help the environment. And Jen got this message across once again today.
We went for a walk today and I was not very happy to see trash in bushes here or on the sidewalk there. At one point, though, when we got to a part of the sidewalk where there was a whole lot of trash lined along the bushes, I angrily threw up my arms and stood there looking at that mess with my hands on my hips. I turned to look at Jennifer and say, "Do you know one thing we are seeing a lot of on this walk?"
"What?" she asked.
"All of this trash!" I angrily answered, holding my hands out where all that trash was on the ground. It was pitiful. There were papers, empty cigarette cartons, empty laundry detergent bottles, empty cans of beer, wrappers from cookies and other assorted snacks, and even a Band-Aid that had blood on it. (Eww!)
"Why can't people clean up after themselves!" I continued to angrily spout. "They treat the earth like it's some kind of trash can! They should put all of their trash where it belongs!"
I was really seething over this. I mean, we'd seen so much trash littering the grounds as we walked, it was really just bothering me. And seeing it lining the sidewalk was just the last straw. It just made me get really angry about this littering problem.
Usually, we admire architecture and gardening accomplishments on our walks. We admire the flowers, stare in awe at the huge, thick trees towering over us like giants, talk with and sometimes pet animals we see, and enjoy the good walking weather.
But not today. Today, the serious littering problem ruined what should have been a pleasant stroll through the neighborhood.
Jennifer's statement that she wants to do something to help the environment tugged at me. Especially today. Especially now, after seeing all of that trash and how it makes our streets and properties look so ugly and neglected.
So I am going to see what I can find out about a neighborhood clean-up. I don't know where you're supposed to go to get involved in that kind of thing. Or even where you get the trash picker-upper-thingy to reach into those bushes or into lakes to retrieve litter.
But this is a problem that definitely needs to be addressed. It's a problem we just can't make a face at and turn away from. We need to keep our streets clean. We need to put our trash where trash belongs. We need to stop littering and tossing our trash into bushes and onto sidewalks, acting like the trash we throw just anywhere is not our problem. Because it IS our problem. It is everybody's problem. And you're either a part of the solution, or a part of the problem!