It’s a well-known fact that my husband picks up trash around town. He walks our street and the connecting streets, he cleans the playground and grounds at the elementary school next door, and he takes responsibility for picking up in parking lots from our church to anywhere he might be.
We went to the Bahamas on vacation once and, after learning that they didn’t recycle much of anything, he came home with his carry on bag filled with recyclables rather than souvenirs. It was just one bag against a whole island, but it made a small difference.
Larry takes responsibility for messes others created, saying “I don’t like seeing my town looking like this.” So, rather than simply rale against the litterers and polluters, he does something about it.
What difference does one piece of trash make on one day? Think about what would happen if he left them all. Now think about what would happen if each of us followed his example.
Sometimes walking with Larry can be a challenge. I’m out for an increased heart rate and my personal fitness goal, and he’s worried about making our world a better place. Well, Saturday as we walked, I began to pick up trash alongside him. We filled two bags of trash and even found a discarded gift bag alongside the road and filled it too.
As we walked, I learned some things.
- It’s easy to say we care about the earth; it’s hard work to do something about it.
- There’s a lot of trash, I mean, like an overwhelming amount.
- Sometimes the bag gets full and you have to leave an area for another day.
- Once you start picking up trash, it’s an addictive feeling. You want it all gone and realize that that plastic or metal isn’t going to dissolve in the rain.
Anyway, the lessons I learned apply to all kinds of doing good. Hunger and homelessness, poverty and disease are overwhelming. Once you start feeding and housing and clothing and treating, you realize how very much there is to do. But we can do our part, make the difference we can make, and take others — even Larry’s wife who doesn’t always get it — along with us, encouraging them to begin to see the problem and to begin to work to change it one bag full at a time.