Things you can do to keep green spaces green and why convenience is not always better
by Piotr Golinsk
The past year has proven the importance of green spaces in our cities and suburban neighbourhoods. With everything closed due to Covid restrictions and the ever increasing stuffiness of staying home all day, the obvious answer for many was to go outside and head to the park and I think that doing just about anything outside usually makes the experience a whole lot better. Hence the popularity of patios, but there’s an apparent confusion for some who don’t see the irony in driving to the park “for some exercise” and can’t make heads or tails of what a garbage bin is, leaving cigarette butts, plastic bags, food wrappers and masks – masks everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’re being used but they’re not very helpful on the street curbs splayed over a storm drain. Fortunately there are other lovely people who are willing to do the less convenient thing in the face of a better outcome. People like you who love all sizes of parks as much as I do and want to see them clean and green for many years to come; I mean, that’s why you’re reading this now, right?
Put that bag of bags to good use
Photo by Christopher Vega on UnsplashYou’ve been collecting bags for years. From that last trip at the grocery store when you forgot to bring your reusable ones or when your mom dropped off some leftovers for you, the bags ended up being eaten by the growing bag of bags shoved under the kitchen sink, right? Well it was not for naught! Nows your chance to put it to good use; bring one – maybe even two – with you; better yet, fold them up really small and throw a few in your backpack, purse, fanny pack, pant pocket etc. and when visiting the park next time pick up that Doritos bag ruining the view of the flower patch or use a stick to fish out the face mask stuck against the street curb. Collect whatever garbage you see in your immediate area and replace it in the bin. Yes it’s not your fault they’re there, BUT this will give you a great reason to have a superiority complex for the rest of the day letting your friends and family know how you single handedly saved a family of squirrels from eating plastic. While you’re at it, throw a few of those tightly folded bags into their own backpacks and ask them to do the same if they too want to experience the thrilling rush of picking up someone else’s trash.
Walk, bike, jog, skateboard, rollerskate, bus – anything but drive there
Yes I understand there are people with mobility issues or distance issues who can’t simply walk, bike, jog, etc. to the park. Obviously, these people are exempt from my criticisms, but those who are able to do so should use their bodies to get them to their green space of choice. Polluting the air affects the parks just as much as littering the ground and it’s going to be a lot harder to hold up that superiority complex knowing this. Plus you get the added comfort of knowing you burned some extra calories and released some good feeling endorphins. Finally, if you have a dog (or a child) and plan to take them with you, then I need not explain how the more exercise for them the better it is for their physical health -and mental health- so if not for yourself and for the parks, then inconvenience yourself for the sake of your children (humans and dogs alike)! Now you can say you saved a family of squirrels and extended the lives of your family.
Plan it out
If life is the bread then the details must be the contents right? That means that you can have a really great sandwich – think deluxe blt or cajun chicken – that hits the spot everytime. Or you can have some butter and salt and call it a day. Either way you need to be ready with the ingredients or else your sandwich is going to be lame.
And by sandwich I mean life. This may not be the best analogy, but the point I’m trying to make is prepare and pack for your trip appropriately. Use reusable tupperware and utensils if you know you are planning on eating/drinking during your trip to the greenspace! Yes there is the option to buy something on the way or once you’re there (usually), but that also usually comes with tons of waste and the dreaded one-time-use containers/cutlery. I’m sure there’s some leftovers or an easy meal like a sandwich (good analogy afterall!) that would love to become your lunch instead of the garbage bag’s next meal. Do yourself the favour and eat the food you already have and take it one step further by eating with the reusable containers/cutlery you also already have. (Don’t forget the glass/metal bottle filled with coffee or tea after the meal and maybe a cookie or two for dessert!)
I guess I could also title this post “How to Gain a Superiority Complex in 3 Easy Steps” because if you follow the mentioned steps, you could have all the rights to feeling good about yourself. And why shouldn’t you? Spending time outdoors, exercising, eating homemade meals, and doing a good deed are a natural recipe for feeling happy. Add a book or a favourite playlist with some fresh coffee in your favorite park and it’s like nothing else matters.
So if you agree on the importance of keeping green spaces green, I strongly encourage you to follow these suggestions and look for other ways to do so. Share this article and reach out to me if you have other suggestions as well.