Nelson is a small compact city. A well contained pretty precious gem sitting at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.
I am lucky enough to live here, and every Friday I get to work within its perfectly formed CBD.
As is my usual practice, yesterday morning I parked my car for free on Cathedral Hill, a short 5 minute downhill walk into town. Even at 8.15am there were still plenty of car parks available, and after locking up I followed a throng of 2 commuters down the hill. I smiled to myself as I remembered 6 years of enduring commuting on the Tube in London and then having to walk across London Bridge twice a day.
At the same time as I started walking, a woman in a smart black skirt and crisp white shirt started to cross the road to my side of the footpath. She had parked on the other side of the road. I imagined she worked as a professional, perhaps a lawyer or accountant. She was 20 metres further down the hill from me and I noticed she stopped in the middle of the road, then bent down to pick something up. I thought she may have dropped her car keys.
When she finally crossed the road, I followed her down the hill – a weighty shadow some fifteen metres behind her.
Suddenly she stopped again. Then bent down, again picking something up.
Then it struck me what she was doing. She was picking up litter!
She stopped a further 3 times as she walked down the hill. I noted she picked up an empty cigarette packet from the gutter, a cardboard drink container from the midst of a shrub growing alongside the footpath, then some other miscellaneous piece of litter on the footpath itself. I wondered whether she was a good Samaritan or was living with OCD?
As we reached the bottom of the hill she started to turn right, while I was bound to continue going straight. Curiosity got the better of me. I called out.
‘Excuse me,’ I enquired, ‘I was walking behind you and noticed you picking up litter. That’s pretty amazing. I just wanted to know why?’
She smiled at me. Why not? She asked in return.
‘Imagine if everyone picked up even just one or two pieces of litter a day!’ She said.’What difference it would make. I do it because it makes me feel I’m contributing, doing my bit. It makes me feel good.!’
I smiled back, ‘your’e right,’ I said starting to blush. I was embarrassed, I’m not a litter bug and I detest people who are, but apart from moaning about it I actually do nothing positive about litter.
5 a day dietitians and doctors pronounce! But maybe we shouldn’t restrict our 5 a day efforts and mantra’s to just fruit and vege. Perhaps picking up 5 pieces of litter a day will equally add to our well being, it will certainly help our environment.
I’m starting my efforts today, why don’t you too? I challenge you!