Please Just Clean Up After Yourself

January 11, 2011

As children, most of our parents constantly told us to clean up after ourselves. To put our toys away, to make our beds, to wipe up the spilled paint all over the kitchen table — we always had a little voice over our shoulder reminding us that it’s necessary to clean up your own messes. But as we grow into adults, it seems that there are more than just a few people who do not remember that important lesson and start treating their own surroundings very poorly. However, this lack of cleaning up after oneself doesn’t only affect a kitchen counter or a bedroom — it affects each and every person on the planet, our “communal home” if you will. We all live here in this house, and we’re each responsible for cleaning it up.

While I would like to see the phrase “go green” eliminated from the English language altogether, I do want that kind of living to become the norm and not the exception to our way of life. It shouldn’t be something we “do” but rather just the way it is. We could all use cleaner air, less toxic products, and safer food to eat. That being said, I also understand that being bombarded with ideas for, and I hate to say it, “going green” can be overwhelming and a big turn off for many people. So how about this concept instead?

Just clean up after yourself.

Maybe if we stop harping on the animals and the rain forest and the polar bears and instead start concentrating on people’s own families, children, grandparents, and future generations rather than planetary climate change, we can get their attention.

Yep, that’s it. This is what we should be striving for. I have said many, many times here that most residents of planet Earth lucky enough to have a comfortable place to call home are not going to be willing to trade it in for a hut made of dirt… a yurt in the forest… or a 100 square foot tiny house. It’s just not going to happen, period – and I can’t blame them at all for not wanting to do so. So instead of major changes like these, we need to start smaller by fixing some of the behaviors that take place every second of every minute of every day. Let’s take a look at a two common ways that some make a mess of the very planet we all call home:

  • Throwing cigarette butts out of car windows or onto the sidewalk. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, but why toss them on the street? I doubt a smoker would drop cigarette butts on the floor of their own house, so why throw them on the floor of everyone’s house?
  • Putting recyclables in trash cans. Most communities at least recycle paper, plastic and aluminum, so why do so many people just combine them all in the trash to be buried in a landfill somewhere for millennia? It takes no more effort to put trash in the trash bin and recyclables in the recycling bin, yet there are a ton of people who cannot be bothered. Think they would mind if I walked over to their lawn and dumped my recyclables there to let them decompose until the year 2300? Probably, so maybe they should stop putting theirs on everyone else’s front yard.

While not everyone can be convinced to drive a smaller car, to buy organic foods, or to use safter cosmetics, maybe they can be convinced to at least start cleaning up after themselves. After all, most of us learned that as children yet don’t carry it over to adulthood. So use an ashtray, recycle recyclables, dispose of toxic chemicals correctly, get your car emissions checked, and think a little farther down the chain than your own property line.

I dont care if you (ahem) “go green” or hug a tree or whatever – just clean up after yourself like your parents asked you to do all those years ago. It benefits everyone and requires zero effort.

Spread the word.

Photo by emilydickinsonridesabmx

Filed in: Responsible • Tags: ,

About the Author:

After a varied past of being a test driver for automotive television programs, a Hollywood studio lackey, and an online media sales director, David is now the publisher and editor of The Good Human. In his spare time he rides motorcycles, drinks good beer, and builds stuff in the garage. You can follow him on Twitter at @thegoodhuman or G+ at Google
Like this post? If so, please consider subscribing to my full feed RSS. Or, if you would prefer, you can subscribe by Email:

Enter your email address in the box below. Address will only be used to deliver a daily email and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Comments (9)

  1. At a folk festival I help run each summer campers are provided, free of charge, access to empty film cannisters for cigarette butts. The smoker butts out, puts the butt in the cannister and puts the lid on for a stench free seal.
    Very effective.

  2. Kristina says:

    great post. it’s sad that people thought of going green as a trend in makeups, clothes,diapers, bottles etc. when it is really about getting our act together and cleaning earth.

  3. Scott says:

    What a great perspective, people need to see “public” places as exactly that, public, shared, community areas that should be clean and tidy for us all to enjoy.

  4. ines says:

    Great article! Sometimes we are so busy judging others that we don’t see the mistakes we are making.

  5. Walk outside of our rear garden gate and we’re on the communal playing fields. One evening a week and weekends there are local team football matches. You cannot even believe the amount of trash the spectators leave behind.. the whole outline of the pitch has rubbish just dumped. It’s heartbreaking.

    I am seriously thinking now of contacting the council to make the match organizers responsible and to impose fines on the teams up to £1000. NOT fair? Being responsible means they will ask their supporters to take the rubbish home or they can use volunteers to clean the c..p.
    WORST… if the coucil come to mow they mow over rubbish and churn it up into little bits
    BEST… there is a dear little old man who comes to the pitch early next morning and picks up what he can… talk to him and he tells of his sadness of such irresponsibility and the harm to nature :-)

    • david says:

      Great idea! I once went to the city council in my old town to ask why there were no recycling bins in the public park. No one seemed to know the answer, and eventually some showed up.

  6. I have sent my letter. Apparently others have sent letters before but nothing has been done.
    Someone came up with a gr8 idea how to protest and get the local papers down … this is a gr8 suggestion.
    Get about 20 or 30 people to save their recycling for at least a month and then just before the match (es) everyone goes and dumps the recycling rubbish in the goal mouths and bits over the pitch. Of course eveyone has to be prepared to re-collect (clean up) after the protest. If the matches get postponed then they might think twice!
    I think it’s a brilliant idea.. peaceful protest with a clear aim to say CLEAN UP YOUR ACT OR STAY AWAY.

    Would I do it with them? I think Yes!

  7. Ron Lane says:

    Looking for how to pick up after myself. Everyone trys to pick after themselves they just can’t pull it off.