I don’t want to give anyone the impression that my neighborhood is a trash heap. Far from it, in fact. But occasionally when I go for a walk, I notice odds and ends that should be in a bin rather than lying on the shoulder of the road. With the exception of the large pile of McDonald’s wrappers on the corner Monday morning (jettisoned, I imagine, by a carful of rowdy teens after a late-night binge) I am fairly certain that most of the trash actually was placed responsibly in a bin at one point.
The trouble comes from the design of the bins and the truck that comes to collect the garbage each week. The bins are made so that trash collection is a one-man automated job–no longer do two guys ride on the back slinging Hefty bags up from the curb, pausing every few houses to compact the shiny black bags and their contents. Now, a lone driver pulls up and a large claw clamps the bin, then flings it rather violently up over the side of the truck, where gravity opens the hinged lid of the bin and trash falls into the open top of the truck. Not a bad design in theory, but it doesn’t take into account the families who overfill the bin to the point that the lid doesn’t close–as a result, trash falls out onto the road while the claw is lifting the bin. Nor does the design work if there is even the slightest hint of a breeze. If the wind is blowing on trash day, bits of paper and other lightweight items sail away while the bin is upended over the truck.
That’s the stuff I’ve been seeing on my walks. A tissue here. A green Starbucks straw there. A flattened CapriSun pouch in the ditch. So instead of continuing to walk by it day after day, I took an old plastic shopping bag with me and collected the stray bits. It took a couple of miles for the bag to start to fill up, which just shows how clean the neighborhood really is. Anybody driving by before and after I’d been down the street probably wouldn’t have noticed any difference (not like the main road leading to the neighborhood, where regular trash patrols are desperately needed and regularly yield scores of orange bags filled with intentionally discarded garbage). But perhaps my little clean-up will ensure that the neighborhood never does look like that main road.
In an attempt to overwrite all the negative feelings I have about April I have made a pledge to complete 26 random acts of kindness this month. Reporting on these acts is the theme of my participation in this year’s April A to Z Challenge. If what you read here inspires you to commit your own RAoKs this month, please share what you’ve done in the comments. Together, we can rewrite April’s legacy!
If you’d like to check out how some other bloggers are responding to the A to Z Challenge, click here. Beware, there are 2048 participants at the time of this posting…I accept no responsibility for the hours you are likely to lose once you start browsing! 🙂