Twice in the last month I had to ride my bicycle from a VW repair shop in Bothell to my house. It’s about 4-5 miles, maybe half of it on a cycle/running trail and half on relatively busy roads.
Yesterday I decided on a whim to ride all the way to work from my house, a total of 10.5 miles.
I’ve noticed something as I’ve been riding. Garbage. Sure, we’ve all seen litter on the side of the road. But I noticed something different. If you look, the litter – the wrappers and crap you see on the side of the road – are the remnants of waste things themselves. That is, the remnants of candy, sodas, milkshakes, fast food, cigarettes/packages, chew containers and beer. Empty calories, things that kill you, or both. The kinds of things you grab on your way home or your way to work for a quick indulgence in your vice du jour – alcohol, sugar, or tobacco, etc. The kinds of things that you indulge in without thinking about the long-term effects of. I didn’t see a single wrapper for anything healthy – unless you consider a banana peel a wrapper (I saw three – all in various states of decomposition).
Sure, these things may have been dropped on the road over time, and may not have biodegraded, but many of the labels on these wrappers, cups, and cans weren’t worn or bleached by the rain or the sunshine we’ve had this summer, indicating they are fresh droppings. Also of note, many of these packages and wrappers are by definition designed to NOT decompose in any quick manner since they’re supposed to live on convenience store shelves for weeks, months (ew), or years (ick).
I find it rather telling that it’s so easy for people to drop this waste out of their vehicle, pretending that it will just go away. Much like the side effects on them of the vice itself.
Another interesting thing I noticed was that there was effectively no garbage on the side of the cycle path – the people investing in keeping their bodies healthy instead of riding in their cars aren’t throwing waste out as they ride or run.
Can we get people to invest in and take care of the planet if they won’t invest in and take care of themselves?