This past Monday was National Common Courtesy Day. You are probably thinking, “I wish someone had the common courtesy to let me know – I’d have been nicer to folks!” Right?
Well, I would like to ask a personal favor: Let’s make 2016 the “Year of Common Courtesy for the Environment.”
Since spring is breaking out and lots of folks are crawling out of their warm, cozy dens and exploring outdoors more, it is a good time to think about having some good ol’ common courtesy for the outdoors.
If you will allow me to get a little self-righteous here, I have to say that some folks are just downright disgusting about the way they treat the outdoors. You think I’m being too harsh?
Take a walk and open your eyes. See the plastic grocery bags floating around the roads, unopened ad bags left flattened and soggy in the gutters, empty bait boxes and plastic soda bottles along the lake’s edge. Many, like me, consider the outdoors to be an extension of our living room. You wouldn’t throw down your candy bar wrapper, empty water bottle and fast food container in your friend’s living room, would you?
The outdoors, whether the streets through your subdivision, the roads throughout the countryside, the trails through Preservation Parks of Delaware County, or the woods behind the house, are a living room not only for us, but for our wildlife neighbors. If you don’t keep them clean for visual beauty, please consider the safety, health and respect for the wildlife that live around us. It’s just common courtesy.
Now that we have agreed to have a little common courtesy by not throwing our trash on the ground, there must be other ways we can be courteous to our outdoors. First, if you are not already doing it, clean up after your pet when you take them for a walk. It is truly an issue of public health and safety, as pet feces can distribute a variety of diseases, such as tapeworms, roundworms, Parvo, Giardiasis, Salmonellosis and much more. Dog pooh is not fertilizer, but is actually toxic to your lawn. I, for one, will be happy, as I won’t have to listen to my 5-year-old grandson yell, “Look, PawPaw – poop!” every time he sees a pile. It doesn’t matter if it is one pile or 20; he finds great fun being on poop patrol.
When you go for a walk or hike, stick one or two plastic grocery bags in your pocket. They don’t take up much space and are handy for carrying back bits of litter that you find along the way. If you carry two bags, you can put trash in one and recyclables in the other.
Speaking of recycling, here is another common courtesy you can practice on a daily basis. The city of Delaware and many of the townships in Delaware County make it very easy to recycle. This not only helps to extend the life of our landfills, but probably more importantly, recycling reduces some of the strain on other natural resources, such as trees, water, minerals in the soil, etc. By reusing and recycling already processed products, there is less need to use up additional natural resources. To learn more, go to www.delawarehealth.org/.
There are lots of other obvious ways to provide common courtesy to our environment: plant trees, use less fertilizer on the lawn, feed the birds, financially contribute to conservation organizations, and more. One minor activity that can have a major impact on the environment is to pass this attitude on to your children. While walking with your little ones, it’s a great time to pick up trash. They will witness this kind act and it will be mentally imprinted as they grow up. The more they see and do today, the more they will do tomorrow. What a great legacy to give your kids and the environment.
For the large majority of you who are already doing these things, let me say “thank you.” Your conservation ethics do not go unnoticed and are greatly appreciated.
Thanks for letting me vent a little today. I will try to show a little more common courtesy in the future!
Brad Ross is communications specialist at the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.