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COLUMN: We wouldn't need Earth Day if people did the right thing

'One of life's great mysteries involves how the coffee cup is too difficult to carry when empty,' writer says. 'We all must play a part in keeping our greenspaces clean'
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One of life's great mysteries involves how the coffee cup is too difficult to carry when empty.

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

As the great American author notes, we pretend to care about something, but aren’t always truthful to ourselves in our good intentions.

And so it goes (sorry, I love Kurt Vonnegut) with Earth Day. Another one passes today and we pretend that we have done something good for Mother Nature.

But the reality of anyone who regularly walks through our parks and streets tells a very different tale.

It’s not the municipality’s job to clean up the messes left in these pristine areas, we all must play a part in keeping our greenspaces clean.

Over the weekend while walking through Little Lake Park with empty bags, one for recycling and one for garbage, my wife and I filled multiple bags.

The collection was the usual hodgepodge of candy wrappers, cigarette packages, pop and beer cans as well as a dizzying array of coffee cups and dog poop bags.

These last two items always leave me at a loss for words. Why take the time to actually pick up after your dog, but then leave the bag? Is there a dog poop fairy who regularly searches parks and then carries it all away on her magic sleigh?

And for the coffee drinkers, how is it possible to carry a full cup of java and then once it’s empty, it can no longer be held in your hand? Do you have some sort of rare allergy?

One of life's great mysteries involves how the coffee cup is too difficult to carry when empty.

And if we’re going to allow the homeless to sleep in our parks, shouldn’t they be good citizens and clean up their mess when they leave?

I know that’s not politically correct, especially in a world where political correctness has run amuck, but if you’re going to camp in our parks, clean up after yourselves. This is pretty basic.

But it’s not just parks.

Our downtowns can also use a helping hand and that might be an area where BIAs could get involved. 

As an example, there were pizza slices (four to five…sorry not sure of the kind) and other food in the doorway of a closed downtown Midland business on Sunday.

While inviting four or five Labrador retrievers downtown would be a great way to clean up this mess since they will eat pretty much anything and are also incredibly moochie, they can also be easily distracted.

This is where downtown merchants and the BIA come in. It wouldn’t take long to do a little sweep around your immediate area on a semi-daily basis.

Yes, I realize it’s not your fault that this garbage is there.

But it reflects poorly on the downtown, which, in turn, can affect your customer’s enjoyment of coming to shop, which, in turn, can affect your bottom line.

So the big picture would suggest that it might be worth your while.

And for this column, dear readers, I have avoided telling you about some of the other more unmentionable things we picked up during our weekend sojourn. And yes, we wore thick work gloves.

Let’s just say that it’s nice to see that people are practising safe sex and not reusing needles.

We owe it to Mother Nature to be better.

And don't get me started on the dregs of society who illegally dump their garbage along our trail system or on the side of certain roads.

That, my friend, is a column for another day.


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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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