As my tolerance for plastic has decreased, I have found myself going to much greater lengths to pick up rubbish left behind by strangers. I live near the foreshore in Brisbane, so to me, every plastic bag I pick up, I save a turtle. Every bottle top, a bird.
I’ve come to realise that being that person who picks up rubbish has a much greater impact than just removing the rubbish itself. By being that person, I am telling anyone who sees me ‘It’s not okay to litter. People dumping their trash wherever they like is not a standard I am willing to accept.’
By taking action, I am changing the culture towards how we treat our planet. Maybe only ever so slightly, but I am. It only takes one person to see that people actually care about the environment to perhaps think twice before they throw their McDonald's bag out their car window. One person who changes their behaviour, and a difference has been made.
It’s not just the perpetrators who may change their ways when they see people like me in action either. Other members of the community might realise that they can be helping the situation by picking up rubbish too. If other people are already doing it, they aren’t going to seem like stand-out weird people, drawing attention to themselves.
Sure, we could get really pissed off at the people who have a blatant disregard for the environment and local residents. We could hurl abuse and start fights. I know I haven’t held back in certain situations in the past. But it won't solve the problem.
We need a complete shift in societal views. We need people to have the motivation to care for the natural world they live in. That takes people, like me, who care, and leaders for a start. You too can start changing the way your area views pollution by doing something as simple as picking up discarded plastic bottle next time you go for a walk.
You never know, after a while you might start taking a bag with you, specifically for rubbish, when you leave the house. Imagine the positive influence you could have with that!
Are you a picker-upper? Where do you like to pick up?