It is really easy to talk to people about the weather. When it comes to climate, we are all living under the same sky, and our feet walk the same earth. By ‘we’, I’m referring, of course, to the human race, but I’m also referring to you and your neighbours, coworkers, friends and family. Right now, our city is going through a collective sigh of relief as the winter cold melts away and leaves behind the fresh air of spring. There’s something about blue sky and sunshine that draws people out from their makeshift caves and into the community. We can finally walk around the neighbourhood, eat lunch on the patio, ride our bikes to work and tan in our backyards. We can forget the skin-stinging cold and knee-high snow of Winnipeg winter, and appreciate our months of sunshine.
As nice as it sounds, spring isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There is a part of it that we don’t talk about. Maybe we’re ashamed of it. Maybe we have been desensitized and simply don’t care. Maybe we don’t even notice it anymore. It’s easy to forget about it in the winter because it is so well hidden. Out of sight and out of mind. But the snow evaporates into the warm spring air, and reveals an ugly truth about human nature.
Soggy drink cups and cigarette butts replace the crisp pile of snowflakes. Plastic bags roam the streets, and empty beer bottles slump against buildings. The beauty of spring is at war with our forgotten past, carelessly tossed from car windows or mindlessly dropped on the grass.
How many of us have walked outside and kicked a stray cup out of our way, or skillfully avoided spots of gum on the sidewalk? The stink of cigarettes and fumes of daily traffic hover over the city, entering our lungs without us even noticing.
Litter isn’t just litter. It’s a mentality. It seems to be socially acceptable to litter. Or maybe it’s just a bad habit. Maybe it’s disrespect for the environment, or just a thoughtless, harmless action: “The planet will be fine if I throw my cigarette butt out my car window. That’s nothing. Who cares? I wish these crazy environmentalists would relax.”
I’m sure that most people reading this know someone who thinks this way. The increasing number of climate change deniers is terrifying. We can no longer deny what is right in front of our eyes.
I don’t want to be that person, and if you’ve read this far, then I’m hoping you don’t either. If you love the freshness of spring and want to continue to experience it for the rest of your life, then something has to change. It has to. In a couple decades, our seasons could be unrecognizable. Our Winterpeg winters may pale in comparison to the climate change that is to come. We all live under the same sky and walk the same earth, and we must all deal with the consequences of actions on the environment.
One small thing you can do to help is join us on May 30, 2018 at Generation Green, at 100-433 Main Street, for a community clean up. Anyone who is passionate about the planet is welcome to meet us at the store at 6:30pm, armed with compostable garbage bags and gloves (please bring reusable gloves if you have your own – we will provide garbage bags). We will march through the Exchange, cleaning up everything in our path. If you can’t make it, don’t worry. There’s plenty of litter to go around. Start your own community clean up, and tag us on instagram or Facebook! Let’s make our city beautiful again.
Written by Chantal Delaquis