Picking up on the keep it green message
It was one of those silken springtime days. The sun was gentle and the breeze was warm. Glorious magnolia trees were flaunting their prehistoric blooms up and down Poole Street. We had no place we needed to be, and the air was light with optimism.
We were ambling towards home after kindy when my fouryear-old took us on a detour to the Michael Myers walkway. Then, being four, he took a detour off the walkway and into the jumble of vines in the glade.
‘‘Mum,’’ he called out, after a couple of minutes. ‘‘Glass!’’
He waved an empty wine bottle at me, which I stowed grimly under the push chair. Soon enough, he found another, and another. We discovered nine abandoned wine bottles in that serene little clearing, as well as a couple of beer bottles and an energy drink can that was thrown in there for bad measure.
I balanced that precarious load all the way home to our recycling bin, my mood of optimism somewhat deflated.
Environmental awareness is a powerful and confronting thing – you only have to stumble over one YouTube clip of a drinking straw being excruciatingly extracted from a sea turtle’s nostril before you find yourself unable to walk past storm drains without checking for teetering fast-food packaging.
Our family does its fair share of litter collection. More than its fair share, actually, because I don’t think I could drop a piece of rubbish in the street if I tried. The very act would feel as unnatural to me as, say, driving without a seatbelt, or rubbing wasabi in my eye. I was obviously a receptive and obedient student when the Tidy Kiwi message was being touted in my youth. I’m duly passing on this small devotion – one of my two-year-old’s first full sentences was, ‘‘Get the rubbish!’’, issued as a directive to me from his pushchair.
Energy drink cans are the most perplexing piece of litter that I collect. As a product, these elixirs clearly do not work, because conversely the consumer so often seems to be drained of all energy, just managing their final sip before the strength in their hand fails them and the can tumbles helplessly from their grasp.
I can only assume that’s how it goes, anyway.
The first time I heard a foreigner scoff at New Zealand’s clean, green image, I was outraged contains such phenomenal natural beauty, but it’ll take actual human effort to preserve it. I’m no environmental expert, but I do think that we’ve all got to try, and then try a little harder still. I’m therefore genuinely proud that The Leader is putting the environment front and centre next week, dedicating its entire issue to sustainability. I feel my optimism returning. Power to the Litter-ati.
Sadly litter is still a blot on the New Zealand landscape.