I started walking along the Animas River in Durango 20 years ago, picking up trash and recycling. I fell in love with making a difference in the appearance of the earth around me, and getting things to better places than the land.
During these walks, which have become a daily practice, I began to reconnect with the natural world. When you do a cleanup, you are walking slowly. You get to see plants, flowers, birds, wildlife, insects, and other natural features up close and in ever-changing light. You experience weather.
I do what I call “Earthercizing,” when I have to reach, stretch, crawl and more to retrieve items beyond my grasp. My cleanup partners and I invent fun names for the methods we employ, but the best thing of all is to look back on an area that has been cleaned and see the unspoiled beauty.
We agree with the students that plastic bags and water bottles are damaging the planet. That’s why we started our “Just say NO to plastic” project over at Moonflower Market. The public is invited to take a bag or leave a reusable bag. WabiSabi also donates bags for this project. It’s one small step among many that add up to positive changes, all good for nurturing a healthy planet. And instead of buying bottled water, try filtered tap water or get free filtered water at Gear Heads. Use a reusable container for your water.
Annie Leonard’s very entertaining five-minute movie, “The Story of Bottled Water,” (www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-bottled-water/) will change your mind about bottled water forever.
I am closing in on 60, and I can say that of all the things I’ve done in my life, I get the most satisfaction from knowing that hundreds of thousands of pounds of recycling and trash have passed through my hands from the trails, streams and roadways to the recyclers and, as a last resort, the landfill. We’ve also removed thousands of bits of glass from many areas in the region, including the Tea Cup.
We’d love to invite the sixth-grade class to do a cleanup with us and maybe work on some campaigns to educate people about the hazards associated with many one-use items. If you visit our projects page at www.moab-solutions.org, you’ll see a variety of fun projects, all designed to keep our beautiful region beautiful.
Thank you HMK sixth-graders!