Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Do (More Than) Your Part

These days one doesn't have to look very hard to find a trash can. (Recycling bins are fewer and farther between, but that discrepancy is 1) thankfully improving, and 2) a topic for another day.) As I write this post in the waiting area of the Dane County Regional Airport, I can easily spot three without much effort.

Positioned near many of these trash cans are signs politely asking people to - obviously - throw away their garbage.

"Please dispose of your waste here."

"Dispose of your cigarette butts here."

"Please pick up after yourself."

The verbiage almost always suggests and/or requests that people take responsibility for their own messes, which I whole-heartedly support. 

But then I walked past a trash can at the park near my parents' house and realized how a simple change - to a sign but also to a mindset - could make a difference in how our communities look and feel.

"Please pick up SOME trash."

Not "your" trash, but "some" trash. 

I love the idea of looking out for the community as a whole...of going above and beyond for the greater good rather than doing just what's expected and/or required.

As a Girl Scout growing up, whenever we used a public space, park, or campground, we recited and followed through on the Girl Scout pledge to "leave things cleaner than you found them". This mentality - which I try to maintain 25+ years later - can be applied in a variety of circumstances (leave people happier than you found them, for example), and I think these simple stickers on Madison's trash cans could be the first tiny step toward sharing that mentality on a grander scale. 

Note: I TRIED to pick up some trash, but I couldn't find a single piece within a 20 yard radius of this particular trash can. Way to go, Madison!

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