Thursday, September 14, 2017

Clean up for cash

I've been noticing around the city lately that garbage has been collecting all over the place.  I'm a huge fan of this planet and usually look at the larger impact of things.  I've embraced that classic of "Think globally.  Act locally."

Thankfully I'm living on the edge of the Atlantic ocean so in many ways I feel like my actions have an immediate impact globally.  Mainly that at least the trash I pick up will not get into the storm drains and then into our ocean.  Also there is something satisfying about pulling garbage away from a wave that is about to sweep it out to garbage island.

It amazes me how trash ends up in some areas, humans really are ingenious for getting their trash everywhere. I've found old TVs in all manner of places from forests to sea sides. Among the garbage strewn along the highways I have found larger bits of trash, like oh I don't know... a pile of bumpers! These were presumably from some massive pile up that never got cleaned up.

I got some plastic gloves and started picking up more manageable trash, focusing on debris that will be tossed about by the wind and picking up the little bits that are breaking down but will never really disappear, such as plastic cups that shred into strips.  I will stop everything if I find Styrofoam that is compressed balls.  That stuff is the worst for breaking apart but never really going away.  The goal is of course for everyone everywhere to take on the responsibility and hopefully sort their trash into recyclables and not throw it out their car windows for it to become a heap of junk.

Try asking for drinks without straws or lids. Straws make up one of the largest contributors of plastic waste.

I got distracted by my own life and stopped picking up garbage for a while.  At the beginning of this month (Sept 2017) I went to the beach and started picking up trash.  Some lady made a comment that I must work for the city and I replied "I just couldn't take it any more" and we talked a bit about their own garbage picking ways up the beach! Fantastic!

 I've been picking up garbage ever since.  I'll find myself out for a walk and thinking "Oh nuts I forgot a bag for garbage" and one just floats towards me... because there is that much garbage!
I've incorporated it into my day. I'll drive to work and see a particularly bad street and walk over after my shift is done and spend half an hour picking up stuff and have a full garbage bag.  I have to limit how much I clean with large bags because we don't have that much room in our house garbage containers for it all. So I'll usually go with any number of individual grocery bags to gather garbage that is around larger garbage bins around the city.

Try it for yourself.  Find a garbage can and figure out a 10 foot circle around it and just pick up the garbage that is sitting around the can and actually put it in the can.

I have already started to see benefits in my life.  At almost zero cost to me (if I don't drive out to visit the ocean) I walk around the city and find that people don't just throw out garbage, they throw out money.  Sure there are bottles that are a lot easier to spot from a distance, but actual coins at times.  It has become a fun challenge to see how much I can pick up depending on how much time I have.  It has encouraged me to walk a lot more places, cutting down on my gas use and almost always find a few bottles to return.  The best parts have been meeting people along the way and getting to see more of the city.  I have found that if I walk anywhere for long enough I will find something interesting.  Sometimes I even have an amazing walk and don't find garbage for a while.

For large items I'm sort of at a loss for what to do. If anyone has any suggestions for what government department I should be alerting, that would be appreciated.  At the end of the month I'm going to put up how much money I've found along the way.

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