Friday, 19 March 2021

Not driving the getaway car

 Everyday that I'm out on trails, I pick up litter. I usually wear my small-volume hydration pack which contains a waterbottle (primarily for the dogs), a hand spade (for burying or flicking dog poop) and odd items like keys and mobile phone and pepper spray (in waist pouch or shorts pocket).

I tuck chip packets and cookie wrappers into the side pocket of my backpack. Sometimes I stomp on colddrink bottles to flatten them to tuck under the strap on the back of my pack. Some days - depending on the routes - there are very few wrappers; other days there are more. 

This evening, I took the dogs for a short forest walk in the drizzle. Just into our walk I found a clean, new plastic bag next to the trail. I took it as I sign that I should fill it with litter. Walking makes it easier to spot and pick up litter - I'm not in a hurry.

I don't pick up everything - I don't have the capacity to carry every item I see. But the little bits daily add up.

I am a bit resentful about picking up litter because it should be unnecessary. Sure, some wrappers may have blown onto the trail from elsewhere but judging by the state of brand-new wrappers, they have most likely been dropped.

Here's the thing. The litter bug is a fiend indeed and I wish them rotten teeth and crabs. But, I feel that if I just walk past and don't pick up the litter, then I'm an accomplice. The trees, plants, mice, birds and wildlife... they depend on me (and all the other walkers) to help them. To keep their homes clean.

For me, the same applies to many things. If you know better, you have an obligation to do better.

We know that we should take reusable, fabric shopping bags to the shops instead of buying plastic bags each time.

We know that we should reduce the single-use plastics that enter our homes by refusing them because recycling is the last port-of-call, not the first (reduce, reuse being ahead of recycling).

I read about rinsing out cans and flattening the opening so that the animals - like cats and dogs - that scavenge trash and dumps are not tempted to stick their heads into the cans where they can be injured or get stuck.

I saw a post that asked for all plastic rings (6-pack beer, the ring beneath bottle caps) to be snipped so that creatures do not get the ring caught around their paw or neck or jaw.

To implement all of these (and others!) in one go is overwhelming. If I learn of something that I should be doing, then I try to incorporate it. I cannot blame ignorance because I do know better and I know the implication of my action of doing nothing different. 

The driver of the getaway car doesn't take the cash from the cashier at the bank. But he enables the robbery to happen. I try not to be the getaway driver.

At the beginning of the month a friend sent me a 'Mindful March' calendar image with a mindfulness sentiment for each day. The month opened with "Set an intention to live with awareness and kindness".

Picking up litter, picking up lost dogs on the road and a dozen others are about awareness (and kindness). I don't cover all the bases but I'm giving it a good go and aiming to add as I get a grip on each.

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