Litter Be Gone

Pick_Up_Boonville_LogoAfter a fantastic Sixth Annual Pick-Up Boonville, I still feel inspire and keep tackling new routes. Perhaps you saw us picking up along a busy roadway one beautiful morning early April. Our action plan – we each took one side of the road. Although I already knew this, as we trudged up the hill I was reminded once again, we are a mismatched pair.  When it comes to picking up litter, I’m a Type A+ personality sort, whereas my partner, well he is too mellow to even define.  Mismatched perhaps, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As I lagged further and further behind, I kept hearing those dreaded words “Leave the cigarette butts!”  Finally I was out of earshot!  Realizing we had only allotted one hour to this task, I begrudgingly passed up the butts and made more progress up the hill; that is until I came upon a drainage area in the woods to my left.  When I see litter headed downhill, all bets are off. I attack it with a vengeance; I might as well pack a lunch!  Major acrobatics ensued as I attempted to capture yet one more elusive piece of litter as I envisioned it floating into the Missouri River.  Finally I maneuvered myself out of the brush and focused my efforts on the bank visible from the road. I didn’t purposely start on the toxic butts again, but if I was already bent over you bet I grabbed the butts within reach; then the butts close-by if it only required shifting my weight and moving just one foot!  Yeah, I can compromise, well sort of.

As I looked up the hill, I realized my partner must have run into a challenging area, as I was getting closer. I was also feeling confident since I had a trick in my back pocket – the car keys! Although there was a risk factor – we were within walking distance from home. As it turned out, we reached our end goal around the same time. I was elated when he said he would walk back down the hill to get our car, more time to nab cigarette butts!  After finishing the intersection, I headed back down the hill. Dang – a newly tossed McDonalds coffee cup lid! Okay, so I’m not telling anybody where I picked up, just in case a reader will purposefully litter there and, well let’s say, challenge my personal growth. Yeah, when I’m deep in litter recognizance, my mind can go there.  Reset, the birds were singing and the trees were in bloom, pear trees and redbuds!  Wish we could give this route more than an hour, but I have another map calling my name!

 

Join the Earth Day Celebration

 

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Earth Day will be here tomorrow – 4/22/16 – an annual celebration shared by billions of people all over the world.  Perhaps for you, Earth Day has already arrived! This event was first established in the United States in 1970. During a 1969 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Science, and Cultural Organization) conference in San Francisco, a peace activist, John McConnell, proposed a day to honor the earth and the concept of peace. His idea caught on quickly as twenty million Americans celebrated forming peaceful demonstrations favoring environmental reform.  Two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools and hundreds of communities across the United States participated the first year. The Earth Day celebration was held locally in Columbia at Peace Park, on the University of Missouri (MU) campus, from the get-go, an annual tradition that continues today.

In 1990, Denis Hayes promoted the event internationally, organizing events in 141 nations. With the world-wide expansion came a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and the beginning of United Nations summits focusing on environmental concerns. By year 2000, the Internet helped link activists world-wide; over 5,000 environmental groups reached out to millions of people in 184 countries. Now it is observed in 192 countries, coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, making it the largest secular holiday in the world celebrated by billions of people every year.

For years I have participated in this fine tradition. This is a fun event I enjoyed sharing with my girls while they were growing up, they loved celebrating Earth Day! Hopes are you too have been enjoying this annual tradition.  If not, click on the Earth Day Network, and find an event in your area.

As for “my” local, this year’s event, the 27th Annual, will again be held in Peace Park on the MU campus from noon to 7pm  this Sunday, 4/24; rain date 5/1/16.  Peace Park is located at the north end of the MU campus along Elm St, between 6th & 8th Street. Over the years the event has expanded onto the adjacent streets, including 7th, 8th, and Elm Street.  Events include a packed performance on the musical stage, Kids Park, Eco Avenue, and many educational and food booths. The stage will be filled with performances including two children’s choirs, dance performances, folk music, bluegrass, sitar, woodwind music, and close out with a couple bands including Violet and the Undercurrents and Catdaddy’s Funky Fuzz-Bunker Band.  For more information go to – http://columbiaearthday.org/contact; 573-875-0539 or email mail@columbiaearthday.org. Mark your calendars now! Then 4/24, bring your family and friends along and join the celebration with the rest of the World!

 

National Parks Anniversary

I’m a big fan of March 1, 1872; that was the day the US Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant designated Yellowstone as our first National Park. This land was set aside “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” and placed under control by the Secretary of the Interior.  This one action led to a new world-wide trend, now more than 100 countries have set aside some 1200 national parks or preserves.  In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service to protect 35 national parks and monuments.  In 1933 the National Park Service also assumed stewardship of 56 national monuments and military sites.  Now more than 84 million acres are protected, so much to enjoy!

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Leave No Trace

“Leave No Trace” educational programs began in the 1960s when hiking, camping & backpacking became so popular public land was being “loved to death”.  Education was needed to minimize their impact.  In the early 70’s, The Boy Scouts of America started advocating Leave No Trace’s seven principals –  “Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Other Visitors”.  National & State Parks, Wilderness Areas, and National Forests have all benefited from these principals.

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Merchants of Doubt

While now the jig is up for the tobacco industry, introducing the concept of “doubt” gave them enough time to secure billions of addicted customers. Documents now prove they knew tobacco caused cancer in the 1950s; in 1960 they realized it caused heart disease and was addictive.  Fearful of their findings, they hired a public relations specialist in 1953 who suggested they cast doubt.  The hired “independent” pseudo- scientists kept the doubt machine churning.  After 50 years of production, in 2012 a Federal judge ruled they lied. Now the four major tobacco companies are paying over 200 billion in settlements, yet they are still spreading misinformation about the dangers of second-hand smoke.  The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report clearly states exposure to second-hand smoke causes premature death and disease of non-smokers and no ventilation system eliminates that risk.  Fortunately, there is a strong national trend toward restaurants, bars and work sites going smoke-free state-wide; many municipalities in Missouri have smoke-free ordinances.  Unfortunately the town where I live, Boonville, lags behind putting our workers, visitors and citizens at risk.

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