At our recent group adventure to Groovin The Moo Bunbury where our ears were glossed with the magical sounds of many an artist, something unique was going down. It was in the form of an environmental initiative, where festival punters were being encouraged to clean up after themselves and others. This is a really good and fabulous thing to do for our environment, especially with the amount of rubbish having thousands of people crammed inside a fence for ten to twelve hours would accumulate.
Although I very enthusiastically (too enthusiastically?) played a role in this cleanup, I went about it with a heavy heart. You see, there was a catch. Punters were able to exchange one whole dollar for every can or bottle collected, with a limit of five per transaction. An excellent way to get people to clean up after themselves…prey on their greed. I was disappointed to see people cleaning their own rubbish up for the sole purpose of being paid for it. Not because it was actually their rubbish, but to earn a buck. This event, and the success of the whole scheme, thwarted my belief in the goodness of people, and challenged the ideals even I possess, about why people do the things they do.
And I can’t bathe in the glow of self righteousness and glory here, because although I am not (never have and never will be) a litterbug, I wouldn’t be going around picking up other people’s garbage for the sheer joy of it. “Oh look, another piece of dirty chewed gum stuck to a food wrapper. How exciting! I’ll pop that in the bin.” That doesn’t happen. Unfortunately for my ego, I can be counted in amongst the masses here – only trying to minimise harm to the environment because the possibility of earning back the money I spent on the day would increase significantly; the more I collected.
I thought a lot about this on the day and since then too, and was reminded this morning when I saw my bathroom tap running. A slim yet steady stream of water was tumbling through the grate; clean, unused, fresh, cold water. All I could do was let out a sigh as I closed the tap a little tighter.