One of the things I always struggled to comprehend was conscious littering. I would walk around my local park and be bemused at the state that previous users had left it in; especially as open space within sprawling suburbs is getting smaller and harder to find, it needs protecting.
After a while the age old adage came to the forefront of my mind – “if you want the world to change, start with yourself”. I’ve always been a firm believer in self improvement and being proactive in getting others excited to join you as the most efficient way to spur change in any situation. People like to be led by example not orders. So I started working on my three pieces rule; and it ended up very simple.
Every day, pick up three pieces of litter.
The idea behind it is simple. If I’m out on a walk and see litter, I pick it up and move it to a bin. I chose three as the number for a few reasons, mainly the fact that finding three pieces of litter is by no means a monumental task (yet) but it also isn’t such a monumental amount that it turns my dog walk or cycle into a trash collection walk. At the end of the day I want this to be sustainable long term and still enjoy these actions without being buried under the gravity of the task at hand.
That’s not to say I can’t collect more if I see it though.
For example birds had raided a local bin and strewn it’s contents all over the oval so I spent about 3 minutes just collecting it up and putting it back into the council bin. The rule is only stipulates that it cannot be less than three items.
Eventually I will hit a point where my personal litter contribution is 0. When I was younger, sometimes wrappers would blow away and I wouldn’t run after them, or a bin would be overflowing so I would add to the precarious tower of trash and walk on rather than waiting for the next bin. Even today, I’m sure remnants of trash in my pockets sometimes finds it’s way to the ground when I pull my phone or wallet out.
No one is perfect.
The goal is not to vilify everyone else for littering but merely bring our personal net total down. Once my litter contribution hits 0, I can start making a difference, then my contribution to collecting litter works towards becoming part of the reduction effort.
The ideal is simple. This method of cleaning up our cities is easy to perform, barely encroaches on our lives, takes almost no time, but will eventually make a huge difference. If one hundred people took part in three pieces, that’s 300 pieces of litter removed a day. No where near enough, but a start. Every time participation increases, we as a society get closer to holding a negative contribution of litter. So I urge anyone reading this, try collect your three pieces today, you may even find a little inner peace for yourself.
Winding out on a famous quote that works in this context – All it takes for evil [litter] to win, is for good people to do nothing.