Saturday, April 15, 2017

Leave Nothing But Footprints

These pictures were not staged, but were taken as they occurred
on no particular day in a municipal park in Oklahoma.

A Missouri paddling club had a large annual party on a river’s sandbar.  It was a huge affair with tables, chairs, and large coolers all floated in.  The sandbar was packed with people.  Everyone enjoyed having a good time throughout the afternoon, but kudos go to these folks who respected nature and the environment enough to insure that Mother Nature wasn’t the victim of their good time.  The code of conduct for all of us venturing into the wild is to “take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints,” as well as “carry in; carry out,” and these were followed beautifully by these paddlers.  Every scrap of waste was picked up to be carried out, the campfire was dismantled and the ashes buried, and the bar was swept with branches so even the footprints disappeared.  After dozens of people had left, it was impossible to tell a human had ever been there.  Not only should such conduct be a source of pride for all the members of the paddling club, but their behavior will be enjoyed even more by those who follow.  This does not just apply to paddlers though; this should be proper conduct for anyone ever raised by responsible parents and teachers, and the most positive use of peer pressure.

So, the question is:  Why is such conduct so foreign to most of the general public?  Why are humans seen to be such selfish, oafish clods more often than not?   How can they conceivably think it is okay to throw bottles, cans, aluminum foil, plastic, and all kinds of waste into every stream and bush, or throw trash out the vehicle window when driving to and from their destinations?  Here are a couple pictures to illustrate.

Drinking straws and their paper wrappers on either end of a park
bench a mere ten feet from a trash can.

It would have been at least a 15-foot walk
with that soda can to the trash can.

Maybe there’s something wrong with my thinking.  I just don’t get it.  Here in Oklahoma, sports are the largest and most reverently followed religion of all.  So, where is the logic that people will support, follow, cheer, buy booster shirts, flags, fingers, drink cozies, seat cushions and all manner of stuff emblazoned with the name of the town or state the team comes from only to then go out and trash the community the team represents?  Why cheer “Rah, rah, rah Oklahoma State,” and then bury the State of Oklahoma in garbage?  There’s a definite disconnect there.  It would seem that the best way to show team pride would be to take pride in the communities the teams represent.  Another disconnect is having every road shoulder littered with drink cans emblazoned with the Oklahoma City Thunder team emblem.  Why would a sports franchise spend millions of dollars of publicity money to have their team’s name and reputation transformed into highway litter?  You would think they would at least put a banner on the can saying, “Respect your community. Dispose of empty containers responsibly.”  Of course you can transpose these team, community, and state names with any other without changing the message.

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