I spend as much of my time as possible walking and wandering through the conservation lands on Cape Cod. Every town has its jewels whether they are local, state, or federal properties. And while walking and enjoying these areas I always carry with me a bag to pick up any trash along the way.
It’s sad to see these paths strewn with the refuse of “civilization.” A couple of beer cans tossed in the woods. A plastic cup discarded along a trail. A used tennis ball for a dog left behind. Empty wrappers from a consumed candy bar. And countless numbers of cigarette butts thrown about. These are just a few items that I picked up recently at one of the more beautiful parcels of land in Barnstable.
No place is spared such indignation. I was walking through one of the more challenging trails deep in the Cape Cod National Seashore when I came across several empty soda cans. This raised an interesting question. Who actually takes the time and effort to engage in such a long walk, presumably to enjoy the scenery, and then tosses their litter along the trail? I have never understood such erratic and disrespectful behavior. It is such a contradiction that I am unable to explain it.
Of course once an area starts to accumulate any trash, then others feel it is OK to add to the growing eyesore. This is why I always pick up the trash that I see. And because we live in such a consumer-based, throwaway society I am concerned that littering will become a norm and people will become immune to its presence.
So here I am, the self-appointed conservationist trash man, desperately determined to keep plastic out of the ocean and other debris in the proper disposal area. Our conservation lands are too precious and special to allow the trash to stay, particularly as it takes hundreds of years to break most of it down, if ever.
The good news is that I am not alone. I have seen other fellow travelers removing Styrofoam, plastic lids, and aluminum cans from these natural areas. With a wink of an eye and a nod from a head, we pass with unspoken conversation and carry out our mutual silent mission to save the planet one piece of trash at a time.
So please join with me by reducing our consumption, recycling and refurbishing items wherever we can, and stopping to remove whatever trash may be left behind by those with less understanding and sensitivity.
Copyright Gil Newton 2009 Thanks to Chris Dumas for logo image.