Every time I walk my dog I get a little frustrated about all the trash in the streets of my neighborhood. Part of me wants to pick it up but then I think: “Why would I pick up other people’s trash, after all, I didn’t put it there in the first place.” And then I continue my walk and my slight agitation stays with me. Over the last two weeks a couple of events happened that made me reconsider my attitude.
EVENT ONE – A friend of mine had a birthday in February and instead of receiving gifts, he created a private Facebook group where he asked his friends to do a random act of kindness on that day, in his honor. I was surprised to see how many people participated. Someone sat next to a homeless person and ended up talking with her for 3 hours. Someone bought coffee drinks for everyone in his meeting. And someone else picked up the trash in her neighborhood.
EVENT TWO – Last week while working on my website I reviewed all of my old art projects and remembered how much joy I felt when I posted daily pictures of flowers from my neighborhood to Instagram for an entire year. (See: http://nadjahaldimann.com/portfolio_page/a-year-in-flowers). As I walked my dog through the neighborhood, my eyes were always on the lookout for new colors in bloom and every time I saw one, I captured in with my iPhone and shared it for the world to enjoy.
EVENT THREE – At Burning Man everyone is required to MOOP. MOOP is both a noun and a verb and it stands for Matter Out Of Place. Most people at the festival carry a small bag with them and whenever they see MOOP, they MOOP it and the result is phenomenal, despite the tens of thousands of people, there is almost no trash laying around. Having been there 6 times and participated in the MOOPing I know that I am capable of doing this.
Here in Seattle, I often feel that I can’t make an impact on my own. Who am I to make a difference, I am just one person. Well, given the three events I mentioned above and a desire to get past my annoyance with “trashy” people, I decided that instead of stopping to smell the flowers, I’ll stop to pick up trash for the month of March. It will be a social experiment to see if my neighborhood will pick up on the clean vibe and feel less compelled to throw out their trash if there is none visible in the first place. Over the next month, I’ll try to do this every day I am in town and post a picture of what I found.
If you feel compelled to participate this March with your own neighborhood, please sign up with the TrashyMarch Facebook group and/or the @TrashyMarch Instagram Gallery and do share your experience with the hashtag #TrashyMarch. I’d love to see how a few people can have a huge impact on their neighborhood, anywhere in the world!