Five Steps To Improve Nature

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December 6, 2010 by David Gillaspie

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However you see Global Warming, either man-made through pollution, or a natual cycle of atmohpheric ozone holes and melting ice-caps, it’s still about the environment.

Whether you’re a pavement pounding urbanite with an empty milk carton garden, or a country king plowing and planting the back forty, nature is closer than you think.

With that in mind, here are a few ideas to assist the earth.

1.  Get outside.  Find a trail and walk it.  Rain or shine, go out and expose yourself to the elements.  It’ll turn a bad mood good, a sad mood happy. 

Let the miracle of fresh air fill you up.

Don’t go too far off the trail, though.  Deer ticks, rabid raccoons, and poison oak hide in wait for the joyous hiker.

2.  Notice your surroundings and make note of the diversity around you.  Hardwood trees, softwood trees, moss, shrubbery, trash.


Finding trash on a nature walk is a slap in your face, and you don’t like your face slapped unexpectedly.

Identify the trash.  Paper or plastic.  Local or dumped here from out of town, not that it matters.  Once you see the offending article, be ready to spring into action.

3.  If you have a glove, put it on.  If no glove, carefully pick up the trash with as few contact points as possible.

Examine the article.  If you see a label from a local place, consider taking the trash back to its origins.

By the looks of it, this is a coffee cup.  

You can feel comfort it’s not a Starbuck’s Coffee go-cup.  Some complain about the ubiquitous nature of the company, but no matter how you feel, the wilderness is no place for an empty cup of any kind.

Examine carefully for deer ticks, mites, or rabid raccoon saliva.  Plan your means of disposal.   

4.  In most instances, garbage cans accompany parking areas for beach access.  Using one depends on whether or not you’re finished with your drink.

If you are finished, throw it away.  If not, take it with you.  There is no good reason to finish your drink and throw the cup in the bushes for someone else to pick up. 

Littering is not the way to provide more jobs.

If you’ve noticed, the people picking up trash beside the road wear orange jumpsuits.  With a careful reading you can make out the lettering on the backs, “Convict” or “Prisoner” or “County Slammer.”

They’ve already got the trash pick up job covered.

5.  Approach the trash can and lift the lid.  If you’re a germ-o-phobe, use a stick.  You can use the cup to pry the lid up. 

Remember, you’re throwing trash from the forest trail into the trash can, not re-cycling.  You’ll get a good feeling, but don’t count on a trophy and juice box for your trouble.

Instead, remind others how important it is to do the little things.

Resist the temptation, if the garbage you find comes from a local spot you’re familiar with, of loading up all the trash from the can into your trunk and dumping it in the business’ parking lot.  That doesn’t help anyone.

What does help is letting the business owners know their customers are trashing the surroundings with cups that point to them.  If the barista trys to calm you with a free cup of coffee, don’t take it as a bribe.  Just take it and say thank you.

If they call after you on the way out, “Don’t throw the cup in the forest,” it’s not an insult.  They’re showing they understand, and they want you to know.  You can ask if they give free refills, but since you didn’t pay in the first place, why bother.

Your actions have prevented an animal from trying to eat the paper and plastic and dying.  Lightning will not strike at least one paper cup and start a forest fire.

As you continue your drive, you see many people out with like-colored vests and equipment for picking up trash without bending over.  You notice a sign saying Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism.  You are part of the movement, an unwitting protector of common ground.

Now you look in the rearview mirror and instead of seeing a policeman lighting you up, you see a hero. 

The policeman still wants you to pull over, but at least you’ve got a feel-good story to tell him so he won’t give you a speeding ticket.

Tell him you were on the lookout for trash and didn’t notice your speed.

Tell him you’re helping him do his job.


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