I don’t blame Tim Hortons, any more than I blame McDonald’s. Oh wait, yes, I do.
Remember that old chestnut that’s trotted out every time there’s a mass killing: “Guns don’t kill people — people kill people”?
People pull the triggers, that’s for sure — the triggers don’t pull themselves.
But having a gun available can be a big part of the crime.
If you commit a crime, you need to have means, motive, opportunity. A gun in your hands is the means; a gun at hand at the right time is opportunity. All you need is the motive.
Well, lesser crime or not, it’s like that with trash, isn’t it?
If I walk to work, it’s about 50 minutes from door to door.
Fifteen or so minutes of that are along a wide asphalt bike path, next to a four-lane arterial road. On one side of me, it’s traffic, the cars and trucks hissing by. On the other side, it’s the hissing of the straw-coloured, winterdried thigh-high grass, all canted one way with the prevailing wind.
It’s the liveliest dead thing you’ll ever see: it twitches in the wind, hisses and rattles as it’s battered with ice pellets and snow, a constantly shifting backdrop that catches at your attention again and again, your eye alert to motion.
There are trees there, too, a mix of evergreens. small spruce and fir and long-needle pine, none of them taller than a lowceilinged bungalow Christmas tree. And it seems there is no place, no single place, where there isn’t windblown trash bundled in under those trees, coffee cups and burger wrappers and stray mysterious coils of plastic, like hoarders’ gifts of garbage placed with care.
On the road, there are flattened cups and the occasional one left rolling along, drawing cold coffee-and-cream concentric circles with their remaining contents.
The number of cups are reduced as I dodge up through a residential neighbourhood — they’re still around, of course, just spread more thinly, usually up against the curb and mashed flat.
But back on a four-lane main drag, scant blocks from the nearest coffee shop, and they’re back in force. I know one fence along the side of a house where there are easily 40 cups in tight against the fence palings, hunkered down like farm animals trying to escape a cold wind, dirty and wet and some slowly breaking down into papery sludge.
And none of them, not one single cup or wrapper or chip bag, got there by accident. I imagine there’s not one place along that almost-hour-long walk where I’m not within 60 feet of a discarded coffee cup or hardy plastic lid.
There’s lots of space for blame: blame for the fast-food and coffee giants who make and distribute tons of trash, blame for the people who can’t be bothered to keep an empty cup in their cars for even a few miles, blame for those among us who care so little about their surroundings that every inch of the outdoors is essentially an open garbage can.
What do you say? In the New Year, just a scant few days from now, why don’t we all try to do a little better?
I imagine there’s not one place along that almost-hour-long walk where I’m not within 60 feet of a discarded coffee cup or hardy plastic lid.