Friday, October 26, 2007

Doing OUR part

The other day I was sitting in traffic, stuck at one of the many red lights that are not properly timed in Pensacola. I don't know how hard it is to synchronize lights, but obviously our city planners are a tad bit behind the power curve. Hey, when heading to Barnes & Noble can take as little as 10 minutes, or as much as 25, depending on the lights, it's not cool. So enough to make someone who hates being late to appointments or meetings a little manic about leaving the house in time... anyway.

When I'm waiting in the car, I'll usually people watch. There's a lot that can be learned from your neighbors in traffic. For one thing, I'm always surprised when people blare really loud music with their windows down. Usually when I pull up to a stop light, I'll turn down any offensive lyrics (not that I really listen to controversial tunes, but occasionally I'll put Korn on), but just because I don't want to attract too much attention. Or another one - people who pick their nose in traffic. They think that no one is looking, but they're wrong. You'd be surprised at how often I see this.

But the worst offense, by far, is people who throw trash and cigarette butts out their window. There is no excuse for littering. Absolutely NONE.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen people holding their lit cigarettes out their window, take a few drags, and then flick the burning stub out onto the pavement. For one thing, how hard would it be to to throw the butts into a designated place in the car, and then throw it away in a trash can? But then again, if you're all about throwing your lit cigarettes out the window, you obviously aren't interested in trashing your car with your litter. But Mother Nature is okay to trash. A second thing - what if someone happens to have a fuel leak on their car? You never know. One misplaced lit butt and KA-BOOM! (The fuel leak isn't all that far off - it happened on our 1996 Toyota Corolla, "Elma". The permeating smell of gas was a giveaway. Nathaniel was deployed when I had to get the lines replaced, but he made me call the insurance company to get the car towed, rather than risk driving it and blowing up.)

But seriously.

I don't understand why people litter. In all honesty, how hard would it be to place trash in a garbage can? And it's not just cigarette butts, but all sorts of litter. I see wrappers, plastic bags, discarded junk - and for what? Why? When I'm out running or biking, oftentimes I'll see trash, pick it up, and throw it away at the next trash can. All it takes is just a little bit of effort, and the world can truly be a better place. I just don't understand why people do this in the first place. It doesn't take a lot, but we can all do our part. I don't want the world to become an ashtray or open pit. There is so much beauty to behold, and it seems such a shame to throw that away.

Even athletes are to blame. During a race, have you ever discarded a wrapper or empty gel? I try to keep my trash for 2 reasons 1) I don't want to litter 2) I want to avoid penalties at all costs! It takes so little effort, but we can all do our part. Even on long bike rides, how difficult is it to carry all of your trash out with you? On occasions when I've lost an empty gel pack, I'll try to go back and pick it up. And I'm by no means perfect: I've thrown stuff away, but I've at least tried to make an effort to pick it up, or remedy my mistake. But so few people (based on the amount of trash that I've seen over the past few weeks) care. We can all do our part.

And what about nature. The environment. Little cute (and not-so-cute) animals that could mistakenly try to eat this stuff? Plastic bags kill dolphins. Dolphins ingest jelly fish, but oftentimes mistake the plastic for the jellies. The plastic bag gets caught in their throat, or blocks food absorption in their stomach, and they can end up dying. What about plastic rings that hold soda water bottles or cans of coke? Cute (and not-so-cute) animals will get these plastic rings caught around their necks and will slowly (and painfully) be strangled or unable to eat. So please don't throw these out. If you see them, please pick them up and discard them - or at least break the plastic O-rings. I try to cut mine up before they get tossed. It's that easy It's SO EASY to do the right thing.

So why not do it?

Make a change, it doesn't matter if it's small or big. We can all do our part, weather it's picking up a piece of trash on a run, making sure that we take care of our own waste, and yes - when someone throws a lit butt out their window, give them a dirty look. Sometimes it seems a little overwhelming to me, but I know that it's the little things that people do to help that makes this world a better place.

So go for it! And you might just feel better afterwards... and you never know. Someone might see you doing a "good deed" and then, in turn, return the favor by doing their part to keep the community clean.

Sorry if this was a bit rambling today. I don't usually go off like this, but the lady in traffic earlier really got my gander up. It's so easy. It SHOULD be so easy.

And while I'm on the topic of helping out for the greater good.... next time you see a turtle crossing the road, or about to cross, please stop and help it get to the other side (if you can. I realize that traffic can be a bit daunting, and you have to watch out for your safety). But I'm a big fan of turtles. And I'm sure the turtle would appreciate your help too.


Anonymous said...

Hey my friend,
THinking of you..yes, weird..I was on this awesome bike ride today in NC...well...this guy on the car littered a beer can on the middle of the downpour...oh well...
hey I rode 2 out of 2:30 hrs today and I am happy...
Iget home tomorrow at 1:15pm, will head straight to the pool...what are you up to?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ludi,
Glad to hear your bike went well. We went exactly the same distnace. I may hop into the pool with you - call me when you get into town. I'll send you an email as well. Hope that you had a great time in NC! -Marit