Making A Difference #1, Rainbow of Trash

A Rainbow of Trash
by philip scott wikel (originally published in the ojai valley news)

I’m hoping, however misguidedly, that the current generation is looking forward and not back. Forays into nostalgia should be limited to tongue-in-cheek explorations of the music and fashion of pop culture. Popular thinking has to be proactive and the material past has to be left there. I’m tiring of the hollow glorification of the 70s; the whole halter top, bell bottom, hip hugger, adidas shirt, rainbow load of nothing. If you want to bring something back worth bringing, bring back the spirit that created things like Greenpeace and the investigative journalism that exposed Watergate.

It’s been more than 30 years since millions of Americans watched a public service announcement wherein one of our native brothers wept by the side of the road as he walked amid the trash that passing motorists launched at his feet. A generation with this image in mind, has been born, raised, gone to college, gotten jobs and had families, and is now contributing an equal amount of refuse to the roadside. It didn’t stick; they must be either too busy shooting up on TV, fashion and cars to care or too busy getting their heads together and pretending to be groovy to notice. To make matters worse, they have children now and many of them treat these blessings (green areas) with the same disregard they hold for yesterday’s news.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few well-meaning folks out there willing to stoop over to pick up someone else’s mistake, just not enough. When recently I made it a point to monitor a small area on the Ojai Trail, I found that trash has been sitting in the same spot for more than two weeks, though there are dozens of folks, known by our demographers as “environmentally conscious,” who run, walk, or bike down this trail on a daily basis.

Please Remember: “Teach Your Children Well.”*
Highway 33 and the Ojai Bike Trail are in dire need of some TLC. For my part I’m asking my company to adopt a stretch of the trail. Want to change the world today? Pick up some trash. Want to change a mindset? Pick up trash in front of a crowd of people in the middle of town. God loves trash collectors.

Within a couple of weeks of this article’s appearance in the paper, virtually all of the trash on the trail and on Hwy. 33 had disappeared. Pretty cool the way things can work.

* from Crosby Stills, Nash & Young c. 1969

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One thought on “Making A Difference #1, Rainbow of Trash

  1. Well-written piece, Philip. And timely. As you say, the most important lesson of the ’70s didn’t stick: there are beautiful stretches of roadside marred by bottles and wrappers tossed out of car windows. Hopefully, this piece’ll be a wake-up call.

    Like

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