The calendar brightly announced that the first day of spring was over a week ago. Today, is sunny and bright. It might be the first day that parkas are not required for outdoor adventures.
In the last couple of days, the snow has almost completely melted leaving behind mounds of dirt and trash. The winter snowfall temporarily conceals the tragedy of the commons by gently covering up the discarded to-go coffee cup, the Styrofoam take-out container or the plastic bag. The trash that was blown down the road when the garbage can was overturned. The careless person who tossed a cigarette butt near the school. Now, there is no hiding and the clean-up must begin.
A simple act; picking up the trash along the roadway and park. The gesture though, is contagious. Somehow, it seems to give others permission to do so. It is something that I find myself doing several times a week in the spring, along with the help of my children.
While I’m nowhere near having a garbage truck named after me (see, Sedaris, for example), the continual act makes me feel a deeper connection with the community. The occasional nod or uttered “thank you” that I receive are encouragement to continue. Other times I am sure people are wondering why I put my kids to work.
As we dash into April, the month that contains Earth Day, I think it is important to consider the now age-old phrase “think globally, act locally.” While so many of the world’s problems are extremely complicated to solve and can make us feel frustrated, small, anger, hopelessness, confusion and sadness, it is important to remind ourselves of the daily acts that can make a difference in our community, environmental health and personal wellbeing.
Spring is a perfect time to volunteer and get involved in your community. Local city clean-ups, waterway clean-ups, highway walks and tree planting initiatives all begin now. Inquire how to get involved by contacting local conservation authorities, environmental organizations and community or neighbourhood organizations. Or, organize your own clean-up.