Monday, January 23, 2012

Leaving No Trace, But Making An Impact

This week’s mission to ‘leave no trace’ continues. I’m still trying to leave the kitchen cleaner and better than I found it. This means that everything gets put away and cleaned up each time I visit the room. I’ve found this surprisingly easy and satisfying, knowing that I’m leaving a clean space to come back to. The exercise has also allowed me to appreciate the impact that I have on the world, something as simple as wiping down the counter is a reminder of the stewardship I can offer this place. It’s creeping outside of the kitchen as well. Yesterday, we walked up to Starbucks and on the way home, I picked up a coffee cup on the side of the road that someone had carelessly thrown out. I don’t think that I would have been compelled to pick up the trash if it hadn’t been for this week’s mindfulness challenge. I am encouraged by my resolution to keep the one room clean, and feel like I can take a little extra responsibility to make the world a little better because I was here, even if it only means a piece of trash. I would have walked past the coffee cup and not given it a second thought last week, but this week I think, I’ve got a free hand, I can carry that trash home and put it in the garbage. That’s been the attitude in the kitchen too, instead of taking a dish to the kitchen counter and leaving it there to clean later, I follow through and wash it. It’s extremely gratifying. This stewardship is contagious as well, after I picked up the coffee cup, Tiffany felt compelled to pick up some trash too. Even just one piece makes a difference, a tiny change that is compounded by people who see you do it. Empowerment.

While we’re on the subject of littering, it occurs to me that the trash people throw out of their cars might say something about them. From cigarette butts to apple cores, the things people choose to send out the window are unique and possibly based on socioeconomic or cultural factors. For instance, if I littered, my garbage would most likely consist of BC powder packets and diet Pepsi cans. Since I don’t, there is usually one or more of these items behind my seat in the car waiting to be properly disposed of. Here are the items we collected on our way home yesterday, you can use your imagination to picture the litterbugs responsible. Maybe one of them was a yuppie late for work, tossing their latte cup out the window of their BMW, too self-important to waste any energy on finding a trashcan. Another, a late-night partygoer, careless enough to drink and drive, but cautious enough to discard the open container in case the police stop them. They all need to make a better effort.

This week's challenge continues on the road, I'm trying to leave no trace in the bathroom of my hotel room.

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