Three pieces.

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.

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Ones and Zeros

I started my journey in the simplest way possible. From the depths of my hip pockets. I wanted to shrink the size of my wallet. Get rid of unused loyalty cards, or business cards I had accepted out of politeness upon my travels. My wallet is for the things I need these days; Money, ID, Bank cards and health insurance.

The more daunting task was the mobile though. The thing with smart phones? They really are smart. Without realising it that little device wriggles its way into your life more and more. Slowly popping up with abundant frequency. Apps we install get permissions to interrupt and shout at us, at all hours of day and night. We go to sleep to the same glow we wake up to. Where to start though? I was never a massive smart phone guy so surely there is nothing that isn’t worthwhile donning my menus and folders?

Well I soon realised how over time, it collects. I started with emails. I had a hard think about work emails. Why can I receive them 24/7?! Work emails can now only be received between 7am and 6pm; a little before and a little after my regular office hours and probably a little later for my early mornings. That was a liberation in itself. To know that once I got home and switched off from work, my phone did too. No more emails I can’t action popping into my evening only to make me more stressed about forgetting to action the thing I had read about seconds before. Now, I get that email at the perfect time, where if it’s important, I can take action immediately.

Apps are a tough one, there are a few that I need on a daily basis, and some that I use infrequently but are valuable. Banking and my work ftp are two examples. What I didn’t need is games I never played, unless I was looking to distract myself. Social media apps I used when I could be actively involved in something else, I wanted to turn to acting rather than distracting. I said goodbye to Facebook and Reddit. I can now only check those websites on my laptop as a personal control. Which conveniently means that if I am watching Netflix or television, I’m no longer juggling two screens at once.

Now for the truly revealing revelation – I don’t miss any of it. My life has infinitely improved now that I have broken the hold of my phone. Notifications other than those for phone and messaging, are removed. Now I can feel assured my phone will only shout at me, if someone wants to talk to me. The positives didn’t end there though. Running out of battery used to be a common occurrence, I blamed my phone for having a poor and useless battery life, yet now I can charge my phone once every two days. Saving my attention and lowering my power consumption.

Reducing your phones ability to creep into daily life doesn’t only improve your own life though. Now that I can happily not glance at my phone, I can be a more productive team mate at work. Rather than scrolling through Facebook in a zombie like stupor during moments of down time. I can ask others if they need help with their jobs, if there’s any way to make their day easier. By rejoining real life I have become a better team member and worker, and in return, those same people are willing to offer me more help when the situations are reversed.

This is easy to try with  no lasting repercussions. It just takes a bit of willpower to not find ways to break the pact with yourself, but it most definitely is worth it.