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Idealism - Define "Environmentalist"

Have you ever picked up an empty beer bottle off of the street to throw into a trash can? Well, ideally, you would never have to do that because people shouldn't litter the street with garbage. However sometimes it happens. Some people do choose to throw trash on the street.


Why? Why would someone do such a thing? If you believe in keeping things clean, then likely you want everyone to feel the same way. Because if all people believed in keeping things clean, then your life would be easier. We wouldn't have the problem of litter--and that would be "Ideal". At least for you. However, someone else may say that throwing a beer bottle into a trash can to get it off the street is not ideal. Ideally, they would be sure that the bottle is properly recycled. Ideally, everyone would take the time to rinse and dry their spaghetti sauce jars, milk jugs, and tuna cans so they can be recycled.

Recycler (That's right I couldn't find a real person doing it)

Still someone else says, "That's nice, but ideally we should reduce waste." We need to reduce the packaging for fast food--and our consumption of it as a culture. Milk should be gathered and kept in metal milk cans that can be used for decades instead of recycling plastic bottles every week. And how can we justify disposable diapers? Ideally, they would be outlawed, so that we aren't filling up landfills with millions of tons of human waste wrapped up in plastic packages.

Can you see how Idealism is such a personal viewpoint? This is why Utopian Ideals don't come to fruition: people don't agree on what Utopia looks like. So then should we give up on our Ideals? I mean, they'll never be adopted by the whole world, so that means our ideals will never be realized. So why should we strive for the Ideal?

Let's go back to the first viewpoint of the person who just wants people to not litter. I go to this because it is my personal view point. I don't think people should litter. When I moved to Minneapolis, I saw a few people who would walk along the street on Saturdays carrying pickers and a bag to clean up the streets. I always thought something along the lines of "That's good. I'm glad to see someone is doing something about the litter problem."

then I noticed another man who picked up trash on the way to the bus stop. There was no trash can on the corner, but there was a business. This man threw the trash into the parking lot of the business trusting that they would care enough about their property to clean it up. After watching that man every day, I got inspired to want to help.

I started looking for pieces of trash that he missed. however, instead of throwing it into the business parking lot, I used the trash cans and recycling bins in the alleys along the way. i had to go a little out of my way, but honestly, it wasn't that much of a cost. Just a few steps.

5 years later, the other man retired and stopped going to the bus stop. But I continue to pick up the trash every day as I go to the bus stop. Why? Does it make a difference? Isn't it just going to get dirty again?

Yes, it will get dirty again, but it also makes a difference. Picking up trash has led to conversations with strangers who have since become friends. This habit has become part of my identity--my character--and has united me with other people who value clean neighborhoods. So not only is it nicer for all of the people walking the de-cluttered streets, but it improves my life through relationships as well.

Now what are your ideals? I haven't stopped people from littering (Ideal), but I have taken action to address the problem. How are you working toward your ideals?

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