20 April 2007

Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day.

I remember back in university when I was on the solar vehicle team (big nerd, I know) and we were invited to bring the car to an Earth Day conference in Ottawa hosted by David Suzuki. I'd never been to one of these conference things before and I was in for a bit of a culture shock. Everything was so rude and artificial: the expensive yet still cheap backdrops, the introductions to people you don't care about (which I have since learned is important networking for those not in 1st year university), and especially the press conference. The press conference was David Suzuki and a bunch of colleagues sitting at the front and a small horde of "journalists" trying to get the right photo, the right sound bite, the right hook for a story. All the while, they didn't pay attention to what was being said, they talked (quite loudly) amongst themselves, had cell phones going off all over the place, etc. It was all very discouraging.

As for us, we set up our car next to the first model years of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius available in Canada.

The cool thing is, I got to actually meet David Suzuki. Not only that, we got him to sit down in the solar car then closed the top shell on top of him, confining him in the car against his will. I can attest that he's not too comfortable in confined spaces.

The bad thing is, I had my physics final the next day. To get to the conference on time with the car, we had to leave at 5:00 am; we didn't get back until 1:00am. My exam was at 9:00am the next day. So David Suzuki is responsible for my physics mark dropping from about a 90 to an 82.

So where was I going with this? Oh yeah:

There are way too many cigarette butts at the waterfront park near where I work.

As an Earth Day initiative, my company instituted an initiative to clean up the waterfront. For once, the weather was good: nice and sunny and not too windy. Even though I wasn't late, they ran out of the company promotional t-shirts they were giving out. Crappy, that. They also gave us latex gloves and giant garbage bags. At the waterfront, the garbage is 99% cigarette butts. People park there and smoke, then chuck their butts out the window as they leave. It's revolting. A group of us worked a small area for an hour and it was very depressing; we'd go over the area, look back, and it was as if the cigarette butts were regrowing faster than we could pick them up.

Other people walking the sides of road picked up much more interesting stuff, like old rotted-out car parts and degraded pool covers. They had to wear safety vests and look like fools though.

I'd like to think we did our part for the environment, but probably the impact of our garbage bags offset the impact of the stuff we cleaned up; however, the waterfront looks a lot nicer now, and that's good too.

So is anyone else doing something for Earth Day?

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At April 21, 2007 7:42 a.m., Anonymous Sarge said...

My wife and I are about ten minutes from walking out the door for highway cleanup. Our civil air patrol squadron has a four mile stretch we have "adopted". A civil engineer group has the next segment. This afternoon the horseback therapy group I'm a member of will bo going into some state forest near by for cleanup as well.

We live close to a school so we have to make a continual cleanup effort out front. The kids seem to leave a debris field wherever they go.

I think things have gotten better at least as far as the general littering scene is. In my childhood we lived in the Washington, DC area, and I remember driving on the scenic parkways and back roads and it was nothing but garbage from the side of the road to as far into the woods as you could see. Yuu don't see things like that anymore. On the other hand we our stretch of highway is on an interstate which trucks from New York and New Jersey use as a route to a couple of landfills, so we sometimes find some...interesting...things since they sometimes don't secure thier loads.

At April 24, 2007 12:50 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

That may be why there was so much stuff near our road. It's not a big road but there are a couple of industrial type buildings in the area that are serviced by various types of transport trucks. So a windy, narrow, pothole-filled road + transport trucks = debris on the road.

It's always baffled me that there are still people who'd rather throw garbage on the ground when there are garbage cans within view. It sickens me.


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