To my dismay, while I was walking the other day, I found the packaging of a fast food meal spread out in the bicycle lane of a nearby thoroughfare. I hadn’t gone out with a bag that day to collect trash, though. It’s not often that I take a bag, especially if I plan to walk in a developed area. I’m not going to trespass on private property. I just enter undeveloped land or public property — which may be the same thing. And I clean up the sidewalk and the curb.
But Providentially, the original take-out bag was also lying in the street. So I bagged up the garbage and took it home to my dumpster.
There were competitors, though. Ants had somehow discovered the remnants and were feasting. Ants are amazing. I can’t imagine how they know to travel yards away from the soil where they make their nests. They must have fantastic senses of smell.
So here’s a picture of what I found. (I rarely go out without my camera. I take these photos with an actual camera. Not with a phone.)
Personally, I don’t eat fast food. I don’t consider it healthy. If I want unhealthy food, I’ll make it myself. Even if I were so inclined, I wouldn’t be tossing the leftovers where someone else has to pick it up.
Sometimes I take a bag with me on my morning walks to collect trash from the roadside and from undeveloped land. About three weeks ago, in mid-June 2021, I picked up trash along a mile stretch of a thoroughfare near where I live.
The first picture shows how full the bag was from that walk. And it wasn’t even my bag. I went out without a bag, but Providentially came upon a new, empty thirteen-gallon trash bag. I took it as a sign to take the bag and pick up trash.
Recently (it’s now the 4th of July weekend), I retraced my steps part of the way but then turned onto a street that crosses a wash — a dry riverbed. I spent awhile picking up the trash in the wash where the street crosses it. The second picture shows what had accumulated since the last time I cleaned up the wash, quite awhile back.
The next three pictures show perspective of what the area looks like.
Today, I walked by the wash and was going to admire my handiwork. So what do I find? A discarded bed sheet a few yards in from the street.This appears in the next picture.
Lastly, you will see the no littering sign that is prominently posted.
So what lesson can we learn here? One person alone can make a difference. It’s true about me. The difference that I make is that there’s a lot less roadside trash where I choose to pick it up.
But in addition, someone who carelessly tosses something away fouls the environment one person at a time. Each piece of trash has a person behind it and its own story.
I prefer to be who I am, and I’m telling you my story.
Men learned to make wealth much faster than they learned to distribute it justly. Their eye for profit was keener than their ear for the voice of G-d and humanity. That is the great sin of modern humanity, and unless we repent, we shall perish by that sin.
In: Benjamin M. Friedman, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2021), p. 284.