May 19, 2014 - Moving our community cleanup day to May from late April made all the difference today. A bright, sunny morning and all the prep work paid off. Our best turnout in years, a rainbow of ages and ethnicities, enthusiastically filling refuse bags and turning our "Everyone Come Clean" event into a real family affair of close to 80 people. April is too cold for cleanup events now. Europe evidently agrees. Its Clean Up Europe day was May 10 too. Also today, across town, in Toronto's trendy Annex district, I was a special invited guest of Neil Stephenson's. Neil's the pioneer and organizer extraordinaire of a brilliant and successful, "red carpet" event I first featured last year in my newsletter December 1 (#43).
Neil's "Litter and Glitter" treats its volunteers like movie stars. After working until noon everyone headed back to renowned eatery Splendido on Harbord Street for a gourmet lunch, live jazz band and an amazing array of high-end prizes, all donated. The best part about both of today's events? The feeling I have in an area where people have taken the time to care for it runs through me like a deep breath of fresh air. I live for the day when the joy of beautiful surroundings is a constant and not an exception in our neighbourhoods.
May 5, 2014 - Let me illustrate how serious I am about not littering.
Seven houses and the width of a roadway separate my home from my mother's. Between here and there today, I littered accidentally. (45 per cent of all littering is "accidental".)
I was carrying a plastic bag filled with dried cranberries. Maybe I was swinging it around too much in my glee over a spring day that finally bordered on feeling warm. A hole had developed in the bag and, as I neared my destination, out spilled about a half a cup of loose cranberries, some of them not so loose, more like sticky cranberry wads dotting the road surface. I fully intended to clean them up. Before I could get too far, a rumble from down the street told me a vehicle would soon pass. Oh no! It was an oversized FedEx van that had just driven its full weight over my derelict berries. Now they are flatberries. No, they're jam. It was funny, oddly ironic, and highly coincidental all at once.
For many the story would have ended here: Food-mess-on-the-road, oh-well. Your litter maven, however, was not about to have the wretched sight of spilled food stay on the road. It looked conspicuously out of place and uninviting. I retrieved a metal dustbin from my mother's pantry and a straw whisk. Back to the road and to the scene of my crime, I painstakingly removed every blinkin' berry even though it meant digging most of them up with my thumbnail. Thankfully we live on a little-travelled city street. I didn't have to worry about traffic, aside from the odd FedEx truck. The appearance of the street when I finished was well worth the few minutes of tidying involved.
I sprinkled my collected cranberries under some of mom's trees knowing, here on private property, they would be devoured by grateful birds and greedy squirrels.
The moral of this story is: If you litter, pick it up and be a hero in the natural world.