Whose Trash is it Anyway?

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By Bryan Hayes

Every morning, I wake up and go to the fitness trail to work out and fuel my soul with the fresh Florida air.  Today, as I walked up to do push ups, I saw a bottle.  It was but one lonesome bottle laying there lifeless on the wood chip covered ground, surrounded by the most beautiful trees, water, and all the wonders that the majestic south Florida park provides.

With curiosity, I watched one person after another walk by this empty water bottle and wondered why no one picked it up and threw it away.   I pondered why there are no recycling bins in the park.  And, I wondered why someone left it there on the ground in the first place.

It was but one bottle, so what is the big deal, right?   It is actually a beautiful metaphor for life. While we only see it as but a single problem, it is interconnected with so many others.

“Why should I bother?” She asked. “It is not mine.”  

Therein lies the philosophical question of whose bottle is it, does it matter whose it is (or was), because once it is left behind, whose bottle is it now? 

And, to echo that sentiment, he proclaimed.

“It’s not my problem.” He continued. “It is just one bottle.  What’s the big deal anyway?”   

That is a common statement I hear over and over again, and to respond to that, I only needed to go around the lake to the playground area where my intention was to do calisthenics, but something else caught my attention.   In the sand, there was a red plastic cup.  Then, another and another.  

Chances are there was a children’s party on Sunday, which included both plastic cups and juice drinks in plastic packaging, and their trash strewn across the playground.  At first, it did not look like much, but the more I walked the more I found.   Not only did I discover these, but also a plastic plate, and other rather interesting leftovers including someone who had cleaned up after their dog, but left the bag laying on the ground. 

Why?

As I was meandering through the playground picking up trash, there was a rather intriguing scene simultaneously with a gentleman with a metal detector searching for treasure.   How much treasure can be found in a children’s play area, I am not sure.  I did find it intriguing that he continued to go around, over, and beside the trash that was laying next to where he was working but did not touch any of it.

Why?

This is but one playground, but it is not an isolated incident.  Much the same event played out the day prior while at the beach.  In fact, my friend asked me, “Do you think all of this is one day’s worth, two day’s or a week?”   How many other parks, and beaches are there just in the area?

We encounter things in our life everyday that may or may not be ours, but it should be cleaned up, and yet how often we do leave it to someone else?  How often do we turn the other way?  And, how often do we find someone else is to blame?

The answer to why is rarely an easy one, because there are many variables and layers to the question.  Why does anyone choose to do, or not do, anything?

Instead of attempting in vain to solve that, and the many mysteries of the world, we can only ask ourselves that question in order to get the real answer to why.  And take the first step by picking up the stray water bottle or plastic cup that litters a beautiful area.