Tell It On Tuesday – What A Wonderful World

The other day, Will and I decided to enjoy the nice weather and head to the park. We brought our cameras, of course, and started taking photos as soon as our feet touched the grass. Not even five minutes after arriving, I became distracted. This park, that I had played at throughout my junior high years and later, had changed. This change was not a good one, either. I remember it being a place that was so pretty and fun. Now? Well, this is what I spent my time photographing.

Maybe I was oblivious to this as a kid. Unfortunately, I think this situation has turned into a huge problem in the last few years. I know my mom wouldn’t let me play among the disgusting things that this park currently has. I don’t know many who would, if they really looked around before sending their kids out to play. Even putting children aside, anyone who wants to stroll through the park would find more than the expected. You would have to be pretty dense to miss all of the items left behind there.

I know this seems a little uncharacteristic for me to go on about something on my blog like this. I normally try not to, because I know that the last thing I want to see on someone else’s blog is negativity. However, I have a hard time turning away like I saw nothing. Especially when I was able to take over 50 different photos of some of the trash strewn about in only ten minutes!

And I can understand that napkins blow away, kids drop candy and other things in the water from time to time. But bottles of all kinds, paper, plastic, (used) condoms? Seriously. I don’t think most of those were placed accidentally. The items I saw discarded most on the ground were cigarette butts! I know that this is not uncommon, but why should that stop me from mentioning it? I understand that people have a right to smoke in public places, but why is it so difficult to walk to a trash can after you finish? Are your lungs so damaged already that this is impossible?

The saddest part about it is that I have noticed most other places in a similar, or sometimes worse, state than this. What has happened that we think this behavior is ok? It is not hard to clean up after yourself. It is not hard to leave things the way you find them. It is so frustrating!

I think it is obvious that I feel very offended by what I have seen over the past few days. I think it is completely justified. In an effort to take this realization and create some good from it, I am planning on taking time every week to clean our world up a bit, starting in good old Springfield, MO. Whether it be the grounds of my apartment building, parks, or parking lots, I want to clean things up. I feel a strong responsibility for others’ actions and my lack of action up until now. In some ways, I am no better than those slowly junking up my home. (Thanks, by the way. Please sense my sarcasm.) While working toward this, I plan on taking my camera with me. I want to document this journey. I also want something to show others to help encourage them to live a cleaner life, so that others can as well.

What are you doing to help yourself and others?

love, scout

p.s. I know that some of you may have found this post too harsh at times or even felt offended. I am sorry if you took offense, however I will not apologize for anything I have said. They are true feelings and it is just that important to me to say something. I hope you understand, at least, where I am coming from and leave kindly, whether you agree or not. Either way, thanks for reading and, as always, I sincerely hope you enjoy life until I write again. :)

  1. I liked your post :) I don’t understand the need for people to dump their litter everywhere either. I end up taking a small bag with me when I walk my puppy and I pick things up. I also end up picking up a lot of beer bottles from my garden wall and it really ticks me off. It’s disgusting and unsafe because half the time they fall before I find them and end up shattered all over my sidewalk.

    On that note, I don’t understand why people let garbage pile up in their yards. It costs practically nothing to be clean and it makes everything look so much nicer!

    • It makes me happy to hear there are others who are taking initiative. :)

  2. I’m so glad you are doing this. I noticed similar things here in my town and I just can’t believe that our world is coming down to this. I mean, really? You should send your photos to someone in Springfield and see if you could get a group started or something. I didn’t think your post was harsh at all, but well spoken and definitely needed to be said.

  3. Carol said:

    I don’t think this post was too harsh at all. I think it is disgusting too how much trash I see on the side of the road and in parks. I want my future children to have a beautiful, safe & clean place to play. Thank you for taking the photos and addressing the problem!

    • No problem. I am glad you appreciate this. :))

  4. Janel said:

    Wow you get more amazing the more I know you ;) I think this is a great plan and I plan to follow suit. When I went to new Mexico one summer I was appaulef by the ammount of trash that strewn all over the beautiful canyons we hiked! Insane! Not too mention these canyons were homes to many native americans still! Now I make it a point to pack a trash bag in my hiking bag so that I can clean up as I hike ;) thank you for the inspiration friend!! Love you!

    • I feel the same way about you, Janel. The. Same. Way. I love you. :)

  5. honey, this was anything but offensive.
    it was motivating and enlightening – and saddening, too.
    you told a moving story through your photographs alone!

    thank you for taking the time to care about our little planet.
    you rock.

    • No prob bob! I knew that you, if no one else, would appreciate this. <3

  6. Marc said:

    Great photos. Photos that have purpose, such as these, speak louder than words. Perhaps why we’re photographers, eh?
    Never apologize for how you feel.
    Keep blogging!

    • Thank you for the kind words, friend. This is exactly why I am a photographer. I want my work to mean something, to both me and everyone who catches sight of it. That means way more than any sum of money or recognition. :)

  7. Good job Erin. I have spent most of the last two days outside and LOVE the outdoors. These pictures do what pictures are meant fo do. They drew me in and created an emotional reaction inside me that made me sad and digusted with how we treat the world. Thank you for bringing this emergency to light.

    • Wow! Thanks, Jon! It’s great to hear that come from someone in town. :)

  8. mel said:

    your photographs of the garbage are beautiful and depressing. this has always been a pet peeve of mine, and i’ve even (on certain rare bold days) told someone to pick up their trash after seeing them drop it. there’s nothing offensive about this post at all.

    • Wow! I give you a huge pat on the back for calling people out. That takes guts, girl! :)

  9. Serena said:

    Not harsh in the least. I loved it! Sometimes people need to hear the tough stuff along with the good. You rock.

  10. How could anyone find what you said offensive? Pffft ;)

    I think it’s real interesting that you’re planning on doing something like this. Not to discredit you or anything (seriously) but I wonder how long you’ll be able to stick with it.

    • No offense taken there. I need the challenge. :)

  11. Jamie Rollwagen said:

    well said, friend! props to you for bringing this to people’s attention. i think it is something most people are aware of but definitely need reminding of! thank you :)

  12. i agree with everyone else so far, not offensive at all and eye opening to the fact that we can do a little something to help instead of just getting angry and turning our head, you are doing the right thing by taking it upon yourself to pick up even though its not your trash. that is an honorable thing. and its inspiring to me. as well as many others im sure. sometimes its so easy to just get upset about something and turn the other cheek. go erin! and your photos were beautiful, only a true artist can turn a photo of trash into something of beauty :)

    • I think you may be the first person who has referenced me or anything I have done in a way resembling an artist. Thank you!

  13. AlliT said:

    You are fantastic!! I think it is a great idea and in the spirit of your pledge I will also pledge to begin cleaning things I see that make me crazy too… I will stop and pick up that empty soda bottle in the parking lot or just go up and down my street and pick up stray litter around my neighborhood….

    Good idea darling!!!

  14. CaL said:

    Oh my gosh Erin! My mom’s a 5th grade teacher & she’s set up this after school program w/ students where they have a garden & do environmentally friendly things. Recently she went on a photo hunt for trash around her school…which wasn’t hard at all…which is sad! So sad! They’re using the photos she took for a Kindergarten presentation for awareness & they’ll be doing an earth day presentation as well! I’m so happy that at least SOME people are opening their eyes to the trash…the unnecessary muck that is becoming more & more of a problem. Thanks for this post lovely.

    • Wow! That is nuts. It makes me so sad to hear something like that.

    • I am happy to hear that good things are coming from the not-so-good, though. Your mom sounds awesome!

  15. I have found the same thing. Last week I took my two year old son to a playground to play and to take photos and I couldnt get a photo of my son without rubbish in the background. I ended up picking up a plastic bag off the ground and walking around picking up rubbish and ended up with a large overflowing bag of rubbish that I then put in one of the EMPTY rubbish bins (three of which are availabe around the playground).

    How hard is it to hold on to your rubbish or walk to a bin.. seriously..

    Good post and I hope someone reads it and thinks twice about dropping their rubbish

  16. AJ said:

    I agree with you completely.
    It makes me sick when I see someone just throw trash on the ground. Who does that?? I frequently pick up garbage that I see lying around. It might just be one piece, but that’s better than nothing, right?

    • One piece picked up is one less on the ground. Thank you!

  17. welllllll….

    i say…

    don’t apologize for being real. i think more blogs need this point of view.

    love you.

  18. You couldn’t have hit the nail more on the head. I love that you are willing to just put it out there. The issue of people’s laziness when it comes to trash is disgusting. I think we all see it everyday and the more we become aware of it and the more we are able to teach people, young and old alike, the less mess we’ll see and maybe, just maybe we’ll see clean ups happening less often because there is no mess to begin with.
    The whole cigarette thing always gets me too. I used to smoke and I most of the time I did everything possible not to leave my butt on the ground….sometimes that meant putting it out and sticking it in my pocket till I found a trash or got home or even carrying it in my hand. So yeah it’s just people being lazy truly.
    So don’t think that talking about something that is an issue that needs to be addressed more often will cause problems. Rather it’s a reminder that we need to keep doing our parts to help this problem get resolved. So bravo for keepin’ it real!


    • Well said! I needed that encouragement. Thank you!

  19. michabella said:

    I really like this post erin! People need a wake up call that this isnt right! I hate seeing trash everywhere. I remember walking behind someone who took opened a candy and threw the wrapper on the street…I picked it up. His friend saw and I hope he said something to him. It urks me. Even in the road when im driving and see a plastic bag being run over by cars…i want to slam on the brakes and get it. It alwaysss bothers me. Throw your damn trash away people!!! Ugh!

  20. I completely agree with you on this one. Great post! Accountability.

  21. Just found your blog, I love this post, I did something very similar on my own blog recently after finding over 50 discarded whiskey bottles on a walk around my block…then, as in your post, I was reminded of these commercials they had when I was a kid, (I am 47 so you might be too young to remember them). They showed an indian brave on his horse looking around at all the trash in the landscape and then zoomed into his face and he had a tear in his eye. That is how it makes me feel, so sad, so betrayed, so disheartened.

    • I think I remember seeing a commercial similar to that. Thanks for coming by. :)

  22. i hate this, too. i work with middle and high school kids, and i really think that their entire morals/values system needs to be changed. they not only think it’s okay to litter, they think it’s cool.

  23. Renee said:

    Great post. I was wondering what camera and lens you used for these pictures? Thanks :)

    • Sure! I used a Nikon D200 and a 50mm f1.8. :)

  24. ronise said:

    I really like this post. Sometimes I pick up someone else’s trash and place it in the trash can, when I find it close to my car or something. It’s a very small action, but if each one did this, we would have a cleaner world for sure.

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