Pop your head out your front door – done? Now, tell me – what did you see? Was there a lush lawn, full of bright green grass and big trees that provide shade for days? Or was there lots of pavement, with little room for some natural breathing plant and animal life to thrive?
Here’s my big questions – did you spot graffiti on walls? How about leftover trash in corners? And last, but not least, what about animal poo – was there any left out and about?
Why am I asking all these questions? Well, for starters, I believe that they are extremely important to the health and well being of not only you as a human, but also to your community in order to be able to flourish. If you do not take care of your surroundings, how can you truly love and respect them? In line with that, I truly believe that living in a habitat that is clean, well taken care of and loved is just at its very root is significantly better experience than living somewhere that is not any of those things.
The community and neighborhood you live in is an extension of your very home. If your home were strewn about with garbage and graffiti, I highly doubt you would just stand around and let it happen, without any attempts to clean up. Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t look at our neighborhoods as extensions of our living rooms – instead, we look at them as something detached from who we are and how we live. Which is really just a huge shame.
Every bird that lands near your window should be treated like a loved on, and its home should be kept as clean and pristine as possible. Every butterfly that flutters by should be able to land on a flower without being attacked by flies buzzing around months old garbage. And if I may – every human should be able to walk down the street without having to sidestep poo.
Perhaps, going vegan and trying to decimate your plastic waste is not plausible at this moment. Perhaps those actions will never be plausible for you. And that’s ok – we are only human, and chasing some eco-friendly perfection is just a waste of good mental health. However, I do really think it’s important to recognize that there are small, seemingly thoughtless actions, that can create really big positive impacts.
- Having a local community group paint over graffiti and create beautiful murals from it. In any neighborhood, graffiti is not exactly something that is highly valued. And in Derry~Londonderry, there is a community group called Triax who routinely paints over graffiti and replaces it with big, beautiful murals. This is such a seemingly simple idea, but when you really think about it, it’s brilliant. Because bare walls are being replaced by intricate paintings meant to symbolize the strength of the city, graffiti artists are finding less space to vandalize, and more opportunities to make attractive works of public art instead, thereby creating a more attractive neighborhood.
- Throwing away garbage where it’s actually supposed to be thrown. Seems simple enough, I know. But the amount of times I’ve witnessed people carelessly place garbage outside their properties because they just can’t be bothered is unnerving. Often times, it’s literally just a matter of putting it out on the right day, but people don’t bother finding out when that day is. Then, trash starts to pile up, stink up the neighborhood, and really give the place a bad rep. Neighbors and friends are really vital in stopping this – gently try to inform the perpetrators of when and where they’re supposed to leave their garbage out. Often times, a little constructive criticism is all we need to kick us into the right direction.
- Pick up your animal’s poo! I’m not going to lie here – I have never actually had an animal (except my sister *cues the laughs*). However, I’ve had enough friends with pets to know that cleaning up after your animal is not only relatively simple, but it’s also something you sign up for when you actually get said animal. So you literally have no excuse for the blatant disregard of their excrements. Please don’t be gross – pick up after your pet.
Though these tips are not exhaustive, they are little but fierce. Imagine if we all lived in neighborhoods that followed the above guidelines closely. Wouldn’t we all enjoy being outside more? I would argue that surely, we would. And if we all enjoyed being outside more, then I would also argue that we would try a lot a bit harder to decrease our waste and emissions through other ways as well.
If we fail to see the small picture of pollution and climate change, how can we ever hope to see the much bigger, vaster picture? We can’t! Which is why it’s so important we work together, starting now, to focus on just beautifying our neighborhoods, even if we do it for very selfish reasons. Because it is only through action and reaction that we can hope to create bigger waves of change down the line.