Lions vs. Rabbits

Someone once told me, “If you focus on the rabbits, the lions will eat you.”  I.e.- if you want to make big changes, focus on the big picture, rather than worry about minutia.

As I walk my dog along the creek in my neighborhood, I’ve been picking up plastic trash lately.  I walk out of the woods each time with my large bag full.  I often ask myself- “What’s the point?”  After all, a huge amount of plastics begins its journey to our oceans every time it rains heavily.

I think I pick up trash because it makes me feel good.  That’s fine, but that’s rather self-serving and has a negligible impact on making the world a better place.  I’ve told myself “Maybe someone else will see me doing it and they’ll start doing it too.”  But I really wonder if maybe my focus is on me again- that someone else will see me doing it and I’ll feel even greater about myself- as in, “Look at how great I am, everybody!”

Montgomery County just launched a tax on all carry out bags.  We recently noticed that in our only Montgomery County store (Rockville), reusable bag usage increased in one week from 3660 to 5479.  That is almost 2000 fewer disposable bags being used each week at one retailer!

That small piece of legislation alone has undoubtedly had a HUGE impact- far more of an impact than any one person could make picking up trash.  This is such a powerful reminder for me to keep my eye on those lions…

This entry was posted in environment, Living, personal, trash and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Lions vs. Rabbits

  1. Katy says:

    I completely understand how you feel. Maybe picking up trash will spark a movement to clean up.. It never does, but that should never stop us. Even if people aren’t thanking you, the animals would if they could. I’m sure they like having cleaner creeks and water ways, even if it’s only a couple of bags fewer. Maybe one bird won’t dye from ingesting plastic because you picked up that plastic bottle or chip bag?

  2. Scott says:

    Thanks, Katy.

    btw- I had a meeting this morning with a wonderful group- The Alice Ferguson Foundation. They make a big impact on our waterways, working hard finding ways to reduce plastic.

  3. Katy says:

    Hi Scott, I volunteered with the Alice Ferguson Foundation last year cleaning up the 4mile Run on Mt.Vernon. Just between my boyfriend and I we collected 7 very large bags of mostly soda and beer cans/bottles from the rip-rap along the river. Our group alone collected over 50, they are a great foundation and volunteer every year to clean up the potomac waterways 🙂

  4. sydney jacobs says:

    It’s difficult to understand how people can be against bag fee legislation – let’s hope the MD bag fee bill becomes law and/or Prince George’s also adopts a bag fee. Then it’s on to fight the scourge of plastic bottles!

  5. Germaine says:

    Let’s hope that styrofoam clamshells and cups are next on the list. These deteriorate into very small pieces that are just about impossible to retrieve (depending on where the container deteriorates).
    And yes, keep picking up the trash Scott, every bit counts. If you do only 5 pieces a day, it amounts to 1,825 pieces a year–nothing to sneeze at–and this year it would be 1,830. The National Aquarium in Baltimore holds a cleanup of the shoreline of Fort McHenry once or twice a year. On one of these cleanup days, about 100 volunteers picked up approximately 10,000 pieces of trash and recyclables in not even 4 hours.

    We need to instill a culture in our children and adults of NOT LITTERING. When I took a short course on coastal ecology held in the Crystal Coast area of North Carolina a few years ago, I marveled at the cleanliness of the beaches and shorelines. I asked the instructor how this could be and she replied “We are proud of our beaches in North Carolina.” I hope we can instill some of that pride and caring in the residents of this area as well.

    • Scott says:

      Stryofoam has become so repugnant to me that I simply won’t return to a place that serves it’s food, yogurt, beverages, etc. in styrofoam.

      • John Tomlin says:

        We need to press government at all levels to require that environmental costs be factored into product pricing. People say “I can’t afford to buy organically raised produce.” If the cost to the environment were to be factored into the shelf price of produce from big agribusiness, the cost of organic would be the lesser of the two. It should be the same with all products. We cannot exploit the environment as we have for any longer. Future generations depend on it.

  6. Your remarks about paper bags reminds me of my wish to restart a double habit of walking around my neighborhood and picking up trash! So many benefits:
    Reduce pollution
    Improve the beauty of my neigborhood
    Meet neighbors
    Admire the growing spring plants

    -Beth (a College Park MOM’s customer)

    • Scott says:

      Great list of added benefits to picking up trash. For me, it started with serene walks with my kids and dog- and sometimes by myself to get some exercise. I see cool things all the time. The other day I saw the work of a beaver.

  7. Tracey says:

    After reading this I am now searching for information about cleaning up trash in Prince Georges County. Thanks

  8. Gretchen Dunn says:

    @Germaine: “We are proud of our beaches in North Carolina”. Connection and caring for our local water is key to an understanding of anti-littering. Last year we held the first Global Water Dance in which over 60 events took place around the world connecting people to their local water. Locally it was at Bladensburg Waterfront Park. The next Global Water Dance will be on June 15 in 2013. For more information on this, go to

  9. David says:

    As for your picking up trash, there isn’t anything wrong with doing the right thing.

  10. Chuck Dorcey says:

    I pick up trash around my neighborhood because I believe that in our population, there are more people who will add to existing trash than will be the first to throw something in any given spot. When trash lingers, it multiplies. If a piece of trash survives in the wild for (just to pick a number) 1000 days, then if you pick it up, you won’t have to look at it (and watch it multiply) for the next thousand days. If no one collects it, then 1% of the population can clutter it for everyone. If even 1% collect it, then it won’t be a problem. Be part of “the right 1%”!

  11. Ellen Kerley says:

    I love all of the posts. We love Moms too, so many possitives in each store. The photo above is very disturbing, what beach is this?

  12. Wendy says:

    Love this discussion. I pick up trash everywhere I go, although mostly it’s only a few pieces, such as parking lots at shopping centers, the street where I live, etc. I have had the same thoughts as you, Scott, including the “self-serving” quality of feeling good about it. However, seeing trash everywhere galls me no end, and if I at least pick up what I can where I can, I am doing something to change the situation. I admit it’s not much every day, but it adds up, and I don’t litter. If no one littered deliberately, we’d be a fair way along.

  13. John Tomlin says:

    For anyone who walks through the woods, particularly those with resident deer populations, please, PLEASE check yourself for deer ticks. From personal experience let me say; Lyme disease is NO FUN AT ALL!!! I picked up a deer tick (I think) during a box turtle rescue project in 2010 and wound up with a nice case of Lyme. Fortunately, it was diagnosed before it got too advanced, but it still took 60 days of antibiotics to knock it down.

    • Scott says:

      John- this past weekend I was walking through the woods near my mother’s house in Beltsville, MD. Between me and 2 of my kids, we found 6 deer ticks climbing on us. I spent hundreds of hours in those same woods growing up and never once did I end up with a deer tick on me. I had plenty of dog ticks, though.

      3 of my 5 family members have had lyme. We are now vigilant in checking for the ticks.

  14. Marcia (College Park/Rckville MOM's customer) says:

    I, too, pick up trash when I can, particularly in my neighborhood when I’m taking a walk. Used to do it all along the way (1 hour walk), but got to be too much to carry! So I have to limit it to my very local neighborhood. And I don’t litter, either. I think every little bit each person does to clean up, or not litter, is very helpful and possibly shows a good example to others.

  15. Scott says:

    btw- As I was driving up Rockville Pike a couple of weeks ago, there was a woman walking along picking up trash. Even though I know that there are others who care and are working to make things better, it really lifted my spirits to witness it!

    • Betty says:

      I also pick up litter and like you, Scott, it makes me feel good to see and also to read about someone else that does the same. Thank you!!

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