Nothing.

Because I didn’t have them.

I stopped buying bottled water. I used to drink 4 bottles of water per day, on average. That’s over 1,400 plastic bottles per year. Yes, I used to do the “right thing” by religiously placing those empty bottles in the green recycle bin, but little did I know that over 90% of all plastic DOES NOT ACTUALLY GET RECYCLED.

In the last few years I actually started paying more and more attention to the trash others left around me. It didn’t use to bother me, I would glance over the cigarette butts, the candy wrappers on the ground, like they didn’t exist. Then, I saw a video of this majestic manta ray swimming in a sea of trash. That made me stop in my tracks and ask myself: how did we get here? 

Next time I went to walk the dog in our local park, I noticed a lot of trash along the trail. Then, same thing at the beach. Where was all this trash before? Because I certainly didn’t see it. Or, didn’t NOTICE it. Then it hit me: we need to change our perception of our environment, we need to start paying attention to the damage we cause around us, before it’s too late. Just looking the other way will not fix this pollution problem. Yes, the big industries are certainly responsible to find less polluting solutions, but we as individuals have a major part to play as well, and we can influence the manufacturers through our purchasing decisions.

The problem is, my eyes are now open. I can’t ignore the trash anymore. So I started carrying trash bags with me every time we go to walk the dog in the park, or when we go to the beach. Many bystanders even thanked me seeing that I was picking up trash that was not mine. Hopefully they get the impulse to pick up the next piece of trash they see on their way. Hopefully their eyes become open to the condition of our parks, beaches, and environment in general. Hopefully they also come across the article I read that made me feel ashamed of casually drinking water out of plastic bottles every day, when more economical and ecological solutions exist.

Naturally, my next goal was to get all my friends to start paying attention and help keep our neighborhood clean. So I started CleanOurWorld. Friends invited other friends and one morning we gathered 60 people over four beaches in SW Florida to pick up any piece of trash we could find. Now, there are 60 more people that can’t pass by a piece of trash without picking it up.

Now all my friends know that the second worst thing you can do than putting trash in the environment is to just pass by it and leave it there.

Having read this, I’m sure you’ll start noticing some trash out there next time you get out of your house. Try picking it up. Yes, it’s not yours, but how are you going to set an example? Someone will see you and silently thank you. Some may give you a smile. Some may actually thank you out loud. Some may internally laugh at you at first, but then it will hit them too and they will probably pay attention to at least not litter next time.

Then, you’ll start thinking if there are any other easy things you can do or change to help clean our planet. Yes, there are many things YOU can easily do to help the environment.

 

It starts with one simple change in your attitude or habits. Let’s get back to a clean planet.

 

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