Today I went wandering down a Woodsy Trail with my canine companion, Dakota, and allowed my Mind to roam freely through the Tangled Trees and along a Stream-Bank which connects to the Wicomico River. We had a lot of cold days in March, but this First Day of April was pretty warm, so I was hoping to see a few Reptiles and Amphibians awakened from the chill of Winter. I was not disappointed, for just a few minutes into the Forest I saw a Frog jump into the Water ahead of me. Glancing down, I also saw two Turtles on a log than hung over the Water. My Spirit rejoiced to be in proximity to local Wildlife again, and I breathed deeply, savoring the Moment.
But as my happy Eyes took it all in, I had to notice something else, too. Trash. Everywhere, Trash. Plastic bags, styrofoam cups, aluminum cans, glass bottles, bits of paper, bottle caps and twisty ties. A Dunkin Donuts styrofoam cup was actually right side up in the Water, circling around a swirling eddy that was created by limbs that extended from the banks. The way it circled, it seemed it would go on forever in that same spot. The magic of the swirling eddy would have been much more picturesque had a Leaf been stuck in it instead of a styrofoam cup with a corporate logo. I couldn't pick up all the trash, but by God, I could pick up at least that styrofoam cup, which offended me the most. So I gingerly stretched out over the Water and fished it out. Walking a little further, I also found another right side up styrofoam cup, this one on the bank, with a Chic-Fil-A logo on it instead of a Dunkin Donuts one. I grabbed it too. With the dog's leash and these two cups, I was done picking up trash, and had to tuck away my conscience as I walked past all the other garbage that was besmirching that reverent moment in Nature, enjoying Spring.
This gave Birth to an Idea: a Corporate Clean-Up Day, in which local environmentally-minded people come together and occupy a specific Trail in a specific Woods, and then sort out all of the Trash according to which Corporate Logos are upon it. Most of us know by now that Corporations are trashing more than just the local Park: they are trashing our democracy by buying candidates and writing riders for our budget bills, trashing our communities by building pipelines that spill, trashing our healthcare by keeping costs incredibly high for medications and hospital care, trashing our schools by influencing the curriculum, even trashing the lives of our brave men and women in uniform by creating the justifications for War and Death. I am involved with a local effort to fight back against corporate personhood, through Move to Amend. But as I looked at all the corporate logos littering the Forest Floor and the Stream Bank, I had an idea to fight corporations in a much more visible way.
Some of us should go out to lunch, and identify several places throughout our city where we know there is an accumulation of trash. This is almost always in the wild places just beyond the boundaries of a big parking lot or in a park or waterway that runs close to a highway. I can think of ten different locations in Salisbury right now. Then, we should schedule days to go as a group and pull out as much trash as we can from those locations with our own hands. Finally, we should sort the garbage so that every McDonald's bag and box is lumped together with the other McDonald's items, and every Royal Farms item is put together with the other Royal Farms items. Then we should photograph the various piles of trash and post the photos on our Facebook pages. We should even submit these photos to our local papers. If we find that an inordinate amount of trash is coming from just one or two different corporations in the city, perhaps we should approach the local managers of those franchise locations and submit a letter from concerned citizens that they switch to biodegradable supplies, or provide recycling facilities or sponsor a local clean-up day. We should make corporations feel embarrassed by all the disposable crap they are enabling to proliferate throughout our wild places.
I foresee that such an action could have several effects. Not only might it encourage a handful of local franchise stores to clean up their act, but it could also have an effect on the personal behavior of people who litter. With publicity from a local paper or television News program it could also highlight the work of Move to Amend against corporate personhood and corporate trashing of the environment. After all, these days it is increasingly important to fight the invisible pollution which causes climate change. But since it is sometimes difficult to mobilize people against invisible pollution, perhaps a few can be galvanized into a consciousness shift if we work for a bit against the VISIBLE pollution which is everywhere around us.
I am already familiar with a group on Facebook that does similar work called the "Two Hands Project" Members of this page frequently challenge each other to go somewhere in their neighborhood and see how much trash just two hands can pick up in 30 minutes. Then they photograph the trash and upload the pictures to the facebook page. This is grassroots environmentalism, and it is very visually compelling.
Getting 10 people to do this 10 times would have such a massive community impact. So, please, who is with me?