The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

Two Pieces a Day

No I'm not referring to guideline limits for struggling gum addicts, (serious as that is) I am talking about litter.

I'm Sam Goertz, and for the next two weeks-ish I get the great fortune of blogging for the Green Medium. Coming up with my first article idea was almost an automatic process for me, I immediately knew what I wanted to write about; littering, or more specifically, litter clean-up/prevention. Full disclosure, in a former life (4 years ago) when I was at my peak grade 9 boy self, I used to litter. I wouldn't go out of my way to do so, but to call me a Suzukian would be like calling Donald Trump a critical thinker. He certainly isn't actively opposing critical thinking, but in action it's clear he doesn't exhibit such principles. Long, awkward metaphor aside (I just wanted to take a jab at "the Donald), I used to litter, and I would litter because I thought it was cool. Yes, I thought the "give-no-shit" attitude would make me cool or at least give me that appearance of teenage sprezzatura. And then it dawned on me like a tidal wave of worldly-consciousness, it's the individuals who make things better or worse. Call it naïve, but I truly believe, one person or one small group of people can make a significant impact, because that's all that really ever has.

About a year ago, after my battle with littering-douchebaggery I am proud to say I have completely changed. I now actively seek out litter to deposit in the recycling or garbage bins (the difference cannot be overstated) because of one simple principle: two pieces a day. Every single day I go out in public I strive to find, pick-up, and deposit two pieces of litter. Unfortunately it isn't hard to find in our city. Worldwide $11.5 billion is spent yearly to clean-up the litter that could just as easily have been thrown in the dustbin. In fact, to go one-step further, of the people who say they would litter (not that they guiltily have, but that they would consciously) most of those folks are in the 18-34 age category, among the largest and fastest growing groups worldwide. But it's not all bad news and humdrum. Japan is one of the world's leaders in the 3 R's, in fact, in Japan one will often see 12 different trash-sorting bins side-by-side all with diverse and specific purposes. The Japanese are renowned for their lack of litter, going so far as cleaning up a Soccer stadium after a loss in June 2014 entirely free of charge and entirely voluntarily because social and environmental responsibility is so ingrained. In their culture, eating and walking is a taboo and therefore the litter threat is mitigated. They are world-leaders on all anti-litter fronts.

A litter-free (or next to) society is completely possible here, in Edmonton and North America. While we may not become Japan anytime soon, we can do our part. I'm not asking for you to spend your day seeking out litter, or even to pick up every piece you see. What I ask, is for you to think "Is there even a little more I can do to help prevent and solve the litter-problem?" The next time you're out in public try to pick up two pieces of litter, no more, no less and see how quickly you get hooked. The low-key altruism is an addiction that you won't want to kick. If we all do this, even 5 days a week, 10 pieces per person, that would equate to roughly 10 million pieces weekly in our fine city, and in a few short weeks it'd be a radically different sight. Take pride in your community, and take action, and if need be, stop and talk to former litterbugs like me and say "You're already cool, you don't need to litter". They'll probably give you the finger, but it'll get them thinking. We can make a difference, a day at a time, piece by piece.

Thank you for your patience through this marathon piece,

Most sincerely,

Sam Goertz

What the heck IS Fairtrade and what does it actually do?

Meet the Danes