Over the last few weeks, I have started picking up trash on the way to work.
At the moment, one of the great blessings of my life is that I get to cycle to work, on a beautiful path along the river. There is a little stretch where there is a lot of litter among the trees and bushes. It never gets picked up (I have great appreciation for the hard work the municipal workers in my city are doing, nevertheless I disagree with how they take care of plants and litter). It occurred to me this winter that instead of complaining to myself that the litter does not get picked up, I could do something about it. It took months to finally start, but I am so glad I did!
The first surprise is that there is a lot of trash. It is almost fractal — the more you look, the more you find, since the litter breaks down with time and gets covered by the plants and fallen leaves. It also keeps coming back, as people keep littering regularly. And all this on a tiny, 200-metre stretch of land in one of the most ecologically-conscious countries in the world.
The second surprise is how easy it is to just pick up trash. There was a large psychological barrier to overcome before I could start, but the very moment after I pulled out my first little plastic bag, things became easy. Picking up trash requires no preparation and so very little effort. Three times a week, I spend maybe ten minutes filling up a small bag on my way to work, throw away the bag in a bin together with my single-use glove, and then I get to see the result on the way back in the evening.
A great part of the spark came from seeing, three years ago, a photo of Gary Christenson, Mayor of Malden (MA, US) on the internet. Anyway this just to say, if you are hesitating too, go for it!