The Big Dust-Off

Monday, April 13, 2009

I have already professed my hatred for litter. I think that it is really the pinnacle of laziness. Let me explain where I am coming from. What I do in my room is my business. If I mess up the kitchen, you know leave a few dishes in the sink or neglect to wipe-down the counter, then that is rude and insensitive to my roommate. The house isn’t just mine. Now if I leave my front lawn in disarray then I am being slothful and disrespectful to my neighbours and their property value. My actions have an impact on others

So when some one tosses something on the ground (litters), I see it as one of the most selfish acts possible. You are basically robbing society of its right to a clean environment and depriving the public of beauty. A sprinkling of cigarette butts, a dash of disposable coffee cups, and of course a smidgen of candy wrappers, and you’ve got yourself the fixins’ for one ugly landscape. In fact the only missing element is the cliché free daily newspaper blowing around by like urban tumbleweed.

I always think to myself that the city could be a much better place if only people could do a little bit of house cleaning every once and a while. I mean it would be even better if we could avoid callously tossing things on the ground but... city dwellers will be city dwellers. And, much to my chagrin, even a place as beautiful as a university campus is not impervious to litter. Sometimes the litter seems to pour over the campus like a wave.

Your average campus is no different from anywhere else. Smashed beer bottles are the carefree testament to a night of on-campus drinking. Black polka dotted banana peels perched beside waste receptacles are the shameful reminders of an attempted long-distance waste shot. And somehow there is always a mountain of gravelly debris, likely the ruminants of a slippery winter. I can’t help but look at all this stuff and think “Really? Can’t we do just a little bit better?”

Well next week we will get our chance to slightly right the wrongs of a wasted landscape (sorry about the terrible pun). You see next week is Spring Cleaning for the City of Ottawa. The entire city is going to come together and give this city a good brush up. This is the first year that the campus is going to participate and I am hoping that it won’t be the last. But there is something more to this than just a campus cleaning. To me there is something holistic about the coming together of a group of people with a shared purpose.

The contrast in my mind is night and day. I was strolling through the campus today and I saw something that put me off a little. The campus was full of workers cleaning up for the Spring. It’s not the fact that people were cleaning up ahead of big clean-up date, it’s more how it was being down. The campus has a contract with a big company that comes in and does an industrial style clean-up. The whole thing was rather disturbing to see because of the soullessness of it. What I saw was a group of people blowing the dust off of the sidewalks with giant diesel powered blowers, each with an industrialized mask. It was kind of apocalyptic considering that next week there should be a group of people working hand in hand with simple brooms, gloves, and hopefully smiles.

So if you feel the urge to get your hands dirty, do a little something nice for mother nature, and exercise that good citizen muscle of yours, then sop by the campus on Saturday April 25th and we will have all the tools ready for you.

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