This week we awoke with the sun to clean a local waterfowl reserve. This may sound fancy, but to all Corkonians it is known as the Lough and it is not so fancy. A freshwater lake home to various fish and obviously ducks, geese and swans etc. The majority of its visitors are not wholly interested in the waterfowl. There is a path of 1.1 km that is popular with runners, joggers and walkers. It is a much needed green refuge in the mix of grays and faded pastels that is the city. On the rare days of decent weather (and especially the rarer days of great weather) its surrounding green space filled with guests of all ages. Some are there to kick a ball around or get some exercise, some are there to enjoy a brief respite from their busy lives and others are there to revel. I take no issue with revelry, in fact i have been known to partake in my time. The issue lies with the lack of respect that seems to be a result of the revelry.
In our clean up the most frequent litter was cans and bottles. Now obviously they were not coke cans and bottles of water. Bottles of Heineken and cans of Bulmers seemed to make up the bulk, however the rest was still related to some form of alcohol. I even had to commit the sin of throwing away a full can of Guinness. Someone had decided not to drink it and in lieu of putting it in the bin just a few feet away, had come to the conclusion that it was best to hide it in a pole.
If we had a deposit and return scheme for cans and bottles, I certainly would have made enough for two cups of coffee and could have rewarded ourselves for a job done. We don’t of course, but that is not the point of this post. The point is the lack of respect (intentional or otherwise) that leads to the graveyard of containers that we saw on the cleanup. At a certain point, as supplies begin to dwindle, a decision is made to abandon the now empty carriers of their desired solutions. In this case this was done a few feet from a bin and with the waterfowl likely staring in disbelief.
There is where my issue is, a decision has to be made and the decision is made each time. Drunken berserkers notwithstanding, the enjoyment of alcohol is a time honored tradition and one that brings a smile to many a tired adult on a Friday evening. Enjoyment of something should not impact another’s ability to enjoy something. If it does it is no longer enjoyment, it is selfishness. Selfishness is one of the unholy trinity of our downfall, and inevitably of the Earth’s. Strewn about bottles and cans ruin many peoples ability to enjoy the Lough, but especially the local wildlife’s ability to just live. So I ask all brothers and sisters of the temple of Dionysus, the students of revelry to enjoy themselves, but to leave the spaces ready for the next guests to enjoy it. In more direct language:
Clean up as you drink, have a dedicated bag or box for the empties, or just use the bins provided. The animals don’t drink (alcohol is a poison remember), so don’t leave it lying around. Broken glass is such a waste of resources and is extremely dangerous. Avoid it happening at all by disposing of bottles as they empty. We can all enjoy our beautiful spaces, even if the revelers wont remember it. -M-