April 02, 2008

Cleanup Day

A few years ago, while researching a paper at URI about the environmental movement during the Sixties and Seventies, I was struck by descriptions of our rivers, lakes, hillsides, and streets. It was eye-opening to learn how polluted and trash-strewn the U.S. was before we came to our senses and adopted the three R’s. Of course, it also helped that we were by then a very wealthy nation. Ecological consciousness tends to follow prosperity.

Which explains Macedonia.

Last weekend we took to the backyard, which is really more like this sort of deep ditch along the side and back of the house, and excavated what had to be several generations of discarded bottles and shiny wrappers. It was like a poor man's cultural history of the town. "Ahhh, I see that in the late 80's Schweppes Bitter Lemon was in vogue. It then went out of favor, only to come back strongly sometime between 1997 and 2003 A.D. Discuss." Jillian even found what appeared to be a cow skull. Yeah, we really felt like archeologists.

Our two hundred square foot backyard yielded—wait for it—five full bags of trash.

Macedonia is a struggling nation and the environment is not of particular concern, just as it surely was not so important in pre-affluence America. But we’ve seen some evidence that this is beginning to change—a recent town cleanup day, our Lorax-esque tree-planting holiday, and many of the students at the high school speak about the condition of the environment with genuine bitterness.

Even as Macedonia's economic situation improves, cleaning up the country is a daunting task. The sheer volume of garbage scattered throughout our town, for instance, makes any really meaningful pickup very intimidating. Well, we started in our own backyard. A few neighbors passed by offering curious glances. Maybe it was my surgical gloves or the cranium Jillian was holding, but I’d like to think they were processing: What’d ya know? A few trash bags and an hour of your time go a long way.


Jillian unearths some...nylons

1 comment:

Sara said...

wow. big time spring cleaning, huh? Way to go, guys!