Summertime... and the living is easy... Yes, that's what it feels like sitting in the morning sun, a cup of coffee in my hand.
I can't complain.
Laughter, teenager laughter – you know what that sounds like! – mixed with a girl's excited little screams, some guy is probably trying to tickle her, fills the air. On the other side of the road a group of teenagers is busy doing something. It takes me a second to realise they are not just fooling around, but actually picking up garbage. In pairs of two they work together, one holding long pliers with which he or she picks up all the pieces of plastic, tin cans and even cigarette butts littering the road, pavement or bushes, while the other one carries a big black garbage bag.
I smile and send a silent Thanks! to the teens, but also to their teacher who forced them onto this mission. Thank you!
We need this. Children, teens and grown-ups, we all need to learn. At the last climate strike in Zurich, a friend's step-daughter was shocked by the amount of self-made posters which read wonderful things such as “System change not Climate Change” lying all over the streets at the end of the demonstration. People had just left them there.
Instead of bothering to carry them to the nearest bin.
And believe me, in Zurich, this neat and tidy city, there are tons of bins everywhere.
So what does that tell us?
No, I'm not going to lecture you on responsibility, accountability or any other big word. We all know all about that.
But what do we do about it?
It's summer. Summertime is the time of pick-nicks, take away lunches, camp fires, open-air concerts and hanging out at the lake or the beach. Summertime is the time
of plastic. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but while “Summertime and the living
is easy” applies to us, it does not apply to Mother Earth. In fact, she is being flooded with plastic even more than usually.
Her lakes, her seas, her beaches, her forests, her fields. Are being covered in plastic more and more each year.
So? We know all that.
Small acts of kindness. This usually refers to human beings and our interactions. We know that small acts of kindness can brighten another person's day – and our own. So how about applying this to the planet, to nature?
Small acts of kindness means not only picking up your garbage when you leave your chosen pick-nick spot, the camp site or
the beach – it means picking up everyone else's shit. Yes. I mean that. Their beer cans, their wine bottles, their heaps of plastic. And maybe even their cigarette butts.
An illusion? You tell me. I've been doing it for over 10 years.
Almost every time I go for a walk in the forest. Which is usually at least once a week, if not more often. Yes, that makes a lot of garbage. Now I don't live in South America or in Asia, but in tidy little Switzerland. But you'd be surprised how much trash there is lying around in nature even here. Old shoes, for example.
At first, it felt awkward. Why should I do this? It's not mine. I didn't leave it here!
What if people think I drank all these beer cans, all these bottles of wine?
It's early in the morning!
Yes, people looked and some people stared. But some people smiled and some people thanked me. Some people even said:
“I usually pick up garbage, too!” We smiled at each other.
Believe me, I'm not a saint! Far from it! You who know me well, know all about that!
And my ecological footprint could be greener, although I try.
But it feels good. Yes, you heard me. It feels good. Not picking up other people's trash, no, but doing my part.
A small part, agreed, but a part none the less. Contributing to making this world a little less polluted, a bit more beautiful.
The way it should be.
So, please, enjoy this Summer, enjoy the easy living, the sunshine, the warmth and the swims in the lake or the sea, but bring
a bag for the trash. Mother Nature will appreciate your kindness.
Ps: The photo shows the collection of trash from one walk in the forest...