Saturday, September 22, 2018

My Experience Cleaning Up the Environment

One of the things I am most passionate about is cleaning up the environment, specifically litter clean up. In this article I will cover how I got started, how my efforts progressed, and what I do now to help clean up the environment.

As I kid, I don't recall having any particular interest in the environment or cleaning up. It wasn't until I got older and moved out to my own place that I started taking an interest in the subject. I have always been a pretty clean and organized person so this characteristic may have played a part in how I got started.

One day I decided to take a walk on the bike path near my house. As I was walking, my attention was drawn to a significant amount of garbage scattered alongside the path. I thought to myself, “This does not look good.” Seeing the litter along the path gave a bad impression of the environment and ultimately of those around there who made it like that.

I was pretty disappointed in these findings considering this was my local path and it is where I lived. So I decided to do something about it. The next day I went back out to the same path, but this time I brought a bag along with and picked up garbage along the way.

I was surprised at how much there was! I filled an entire bag in less than half a mile. There was still more to do, but it would have to wait. The next day, I went out again, this time bringing a couple more bags and did the same thing. I covered a good amount of the path and made it look good as new. Little did I know, this was the start of something that would become a big part of my life.

I continued to take maintain the path by cleaning it up at least once a week, but this was just the beginning. Next I started to clean up around the neighborhood where I live as well. Every so often I would walk around the local area picking up any garbage that was on the ground.

It got to be a habit where every time I would go out or come home, I would look around for stuff to pick up. I started to venture out further and would clean up the nearby streets whenever I saw something that was out of place.

Even when going out to stores, I would do the same thing by looking for any garbage in the parking lot to pick up on the way into the store. Often times I would see paper such as advertisements or receipts left in the carts in the store. In the past, like most people I would take a cart next to it that did not have any garbage, but now I actually look for the one that has garbage and take that one so I can clean it up. It just takes a few extra seconds to swing by a trash can and drop off the papers.

Sometimes I will notice a lot of garbage in the parking lots, too much to clean up for someone who is just going in to shop. In cases like this, I will leave feedback for the store to let them know about the condition of the lot. Usually the managers appreciate customers taking the time to let them know about things like this so they can improve their store and improve the customer experience.

You might think that picking up garbage is dirty and do not want to do it because of this, but there are ways to clean up that are safe and sanitary. One of the things I invested in was a grabber which is a reaching tool that has a handle at one end and a claw at the other. It makes it very easy to pick up garbage on the ground without touching it.

Also if you do not have a grabber, a pair of gloves is a good solution to help protect your hands. Even if you do not have a grabber or gloves, most things you find on the ground are not as dirty as you might think. Most things are ok to pick up as long as you are careful and use common sense. Just make sure to wash your hands afterward.

After getting a good handle on the clean up situation locally, I started to venture out and got in touch with the community. I volunteered to do clean ups at the local forest preserve. I also participate in the clean up days that are organized by the park district. These can be good opportunities to meet others with similar interests such as cleaning up the environment.

Sometimes you may see an area that needs attention but maybe you are not able to clean it up, for example if it is private land. In situations like this, there are still things that can be done. If there is an area of land in your community that needs attention, you can contact your village or city to let them know about it. They will be able to check on it and take the appropriate action to see that it is cleaned up.

At times, you might feel like you are the only one who cares, but in fact there are many people out there who feel the same way and want to help clean up the environment. Just by getting out there, not only are you making a positive change, but you are also setting an example for others to follow. Often people will see your efforts and become inspired to get involved as well. In my experience, people are very appreciative when they see you cleaning up. I have received many “Thank you's” when I have been out cleaning up.

Some people live in areas that are heavily littered and they think there is just too much and figure they will not be able to make a difference. It might be a little overwhelming at first, but it does not have to be done all at once. Clean up efforts take persistence to make a difference over time. Do a little bit each day or whenever you have a chance. If you stay on top of it and continue to maintain an area, it will become much cleaner than it was.

Also once it is clean, it can help deter others from littering as well. When an area has a lot of garbage around, people will think that is just how it is and may think it doesn't matter if they throw something else on the ground because there is already a bunch of other stuff there. On the other hand, when an area is very clean, people will realize this is not the place to throw garbage and will instead look for a proper place to dispose of it.

There are online groups where people discuss the topic of litter and clean up where you can get inspiration and share your efforts with others. Even some apps are starting to pop up to help track data about litter in efforts to help promote a cleaner environment.

Cleaning up is something just about anyone can do. Every little bit helps so if you have been thinking about getting involved, now is the time! If you have already begun to help clean up the environment, thank you! Your efforts are appreciated! We only have one Earth. Let's make sure we take care of it!

No comments:

Post a Comment