One of Adam’s and my after-school activities lately is picking up trash around our neighborhood. There’s a small farm nearby where ladies, who seem too old to be farming, hunch over tending to their greens. A massive amount of litter accumulated along the curb right next to their plants. When it rains, the water can wash the toxins into the vegetables. One lady was especially thankful for us cleaning up a bit. I wonder how times have changed. When she was growing up, I don’t imagine there were coffee cups and sleeves piled on every street corner.
Most of all, the amount of cigarette butts on the ground is astounding. Cigarette litter seemed to have increased with the recent indoor smoking ban. These little butts add up to damage Earth and its inhabitants. The non-biodegradable filters capture toxins that kill fish when they wash into the ocean. It’s okay if people decide to smoke, but at least dispose of the waste properly. Don’t ruin it for those who want to live in a healthy place.
Next time you go for a walk, really pay attention to how much litter there is. Nobody wants to live in that kind of environment. The lack of public trash cans doesn’t help, but that is also the case in Japan, the cleanest place I’ve been to date. People seem to hold onto their trash until they can properly dispose of it. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be the case everywhere.
I challenge you to go out this week, wear gloves or use tongs, and pick up trash around your neighborhood. The place could look much better with just 10 minutes of cleaning up. It can be annoying to pick up after others, but litter begets litter. Every little bit counts.
People are less likely to drop something in a clean area than a dirty one. It could also be useful for others to see what you’re doing and hopefully have them rethink throwing trash on the ground in the future. I’m not sure what is being done about litter in Korea right now, but it is obviously a problem. My CouchSurfers come and love Korea, but notice the smells and litter everywhere. It made me feel ashamed when one guest thought Gwangju was so dirty, a place that I love so much. With the upcoming Universiade, visitors will flock from all around the globe. Let’s make it a nicer place!
Picking up trash from the streets doesn’t magically erase the trash from existing, but it’s better to be in one spot than scattered around the streets where animals and kids can pick up. I actually saw some birds this morning trying to pick up food mixed in with other trash on the side of the street. Ideally, we should be working on preventing litter from happening in the first place, but it should be cleaned up first.
Adam and I were trying to think of a catchy hashtag to use (#peoplecan’tgetenoughofthemthesedays) to make picking up trash go viral. Looks like one exists already!