Lest you think your Creative Greenius spends all his time at the keyboard ruminating about issues national and global, this morning I got up early so I would be awake enough to drive across town to Charles Payne’s house on the other side of Torrance, in Old Town. Charles heads up the Old Torrance Neighborhood Association and yesterday I read in my local paper, an item headlined, “Volunteers needed for clean up day.”
The blurb in the Breeze said,
“People who live, work and play in Torrance are invited to volunteer a couple of hours to “Pay it Forward” and make a difference in the community.”
It sounded like the perfect way to spend Saturday morning and another great opportunity to respond to President Obama’s call for service.
If you ask the Greenius, picking up trash and debris from public places and removing it is some of the most basic and necessary environmental work there is. When you put on a pair of gloves and don the day-glo orange vest and venture out to the busy thoroughfare’s medium to bend over, pick up some trash, put it in bag and then go look for some more, you are walking the walk.
And when you go to someone else’s neighborhood to do it you get to make some new friends and lend an unexpected hand to folks who always appreciate it and make you feel wonderful about donating just a couple of hours of your time.
Seemed like about 15 people or so showed up ranging in age from six years old to over 60. Charles and his lovely wife of the last 49 years graciously served us all coffee and breakfast treats at their home before we headed out for the tracks and streets near the historic Southern Pacific Railroad bridge in Torrance.
It’s an area I’ve driven past countless times, but I’d never been on the ground on foot.
Every single one of the volunteers was friendly, comfortable to be with and kind of excited about our mission. This was the Neighborhood Association’s 10th Clean Up Day, so they knew what to expect.
And I have to say, that if you’re going out to clean things up, there is a bit of thrill in finding so much trash to pick up and being able to make such a visible difference in the several blocks you help clean up. Hubcaps, car parts, and fast food trash all called for our attention.
Charles was kind enough to loan me a pair of his leather work gloves and I took advantage of the fact that they wouldn’t be riding home with me in the car by picking up hundreds of cigarette butts lining both sides of the curb.
As a former smoker and ex Catholic I feel it is my deserving penance to pick up cigarette butts wherever I see them. I always wind up with a pocketful when I’m hiking and it’s always the number one item found when I participate in the Heal The Bay beach cleanups we have in my neighborhood.
Perhaps the people who toss these butts from their car windows or think of the beach sand as the world’s most ginormous ashtray don’t know or understand that their waste is toxic. Maybe they are ignorant of the fact that the filters used in cigarettes aren’t made from some kind of compostable organic. They’re made of plastic and they don’t break down. Or maybe all those smokers are just simply a bunch of jerks. These are just some of the thoughts I contemplated as I bent over repeatedly hopefully discovering a whole new green way to get six pack abs.
All butts aside, it was a great way to spend my Saturday morning and it gave me an extra bounce in my step the rest of the day. And Charles, you can pencil me in for the 11th cleanup day when it rolls around.
Maybe when someone from my Hollywood Riviera Homeowners Association reads this post they’ll start scheduling some clean up days for my neighborhood too. Or maybe I’ll just send a link for them to kick start the process and take some responsibility.
So be it. After all, I’m still Fired Up, Ready to Go!