Today, April 22, 2020, is Earth Day. Better yet, it’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! It’s the perfect opportunity to pause and praise (and, unfortunately, to lament) a hyperlocal snapshot or seven.
The first photo (above) in this quick post offers the bittersweet hope of springtime. A pair of precocious daffodils twist their golden crowns to regard the fresh snow that fell overnight to frost this Earth Day celebration. You can almost hear them mumbling incredulously, “Isn’t it supposed to be springtime? Warm and sunny… Not frosty! What’s with the fresh pow-pow?!?!”
Or something akin to that…
Make Earth Smile Again
The next snapshot in this “ultra twisted” hyperlocal tale of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary is cropped from the Letters to the Editor in the Sun Community News.
This call to action by one of our own—a heartfelt community appeal tapping into our collective yearning for collaboration during this time of quarantine and tapping into our appreciation for healthier, more beautiful environs—achieved its noble aim. Many of our neighbors escaped the confines of their home and labored (socially distant but stoically considering the recent protracted cold snap) along our roads to remove the debris from ditches, fields, and woods.
Overly vigilant for these last four and a half weeks of quarantine, I have remained within the pins of my Essex grounds. An excess of caution perhaps, and in this case a humble acknowledgment that I can take no credit whatsoever for the roadside remediation, it nevertheless heightens my gratitude to those who undertook the unviable cleanup and beautification.
Hence my praise! Thank you, friends and neighbors, for making our piece of the Earth a little healthier and a little happier. Your effort is appreciated and inspiring.
Ultra Twisted Lament
I wish that I could wrap this post up with that last sentence.
“Your effort is appreciated and inspiring.”
That earned gratitude is the rightful heir to your generosity, good neighbors. Thank you to all of those members of our community who spent the last few weeks quarantine-cleaning Essex area byways and highways.
And yet, I am compelled to end on a less joyful note. When I finally managed to escape coronavirus quarantine for a solo bike ride, I was disheartened to discover that new debris has already found its way onto our roadsides once again.
I failed to snap photos at the time, but I shared my anguish with friend and neighbor, Mark “Willie” Wilcox, whose Letter to the Editor appears above. Although he’s repeatedly insisted that he was only a bit player in the Earth Day initiative to clean up our roads, it was he who filled me in on others who’ve voluntarily remediated the roadside refuse, and it was he who praised the others who made this dream into reality, and it was he who disclosed the “ultra twisted” subplot that I’ll now share with you.
During the cleanup two discarded refreshment containers apparently dominated the trash that was removed from ditches: Michelob Ultra and Twisted Tea. Of course these were not the only recognizable brands; a close runner up along certain stretches was Genesee.
An otherwise forgettable fact, right? But it resurfaced during my bike ride. The only litter I saw discarded along otherwise immaculate roadsides was Michelob Ultra. When I mentioned my findings Willie confirmed that he was seeing the same thing.
This slideshow tells the story.
Mostly Michelob Ultra. And a single Twisted Tea…
There are times that brands are thrilled to predominate. I suspect that this is not one of those times. And yet the prevalence of Michelob Ultra cans and cardboard containers begs a few questions:
- Are Michelob Ultra and Twisted Tea somehow promoting disregard for the planet in their marketing/branding strategies?
- Is there something in the ingredients of Michelob Ultra and Twisted Tea that inspires drinking and driving? Littering?
- Perhaps litterbugs are coincidently keen on Michelob Ultra and Twisted Tea despite both brands’ better intentions with respect to planet Earth?
- Or could it be a conspiracy—some sort of guerrilla activism—intended to damage these brands by polluting the planet (or just our amazing corner of the planet) with the familiar fanfare of Michelob Ultra and Twisted Tea branding?
I’ll be frank. I don’t honestly believe that answering any of these questions will unravel the mystery. But I am hopeful that we can all become a little more cognizant and careful about what finds its way from our vehicles into nature along the margins of our daily commutes. Sometimes we all need a reminder. Let’s keep our planet healthy and happy on Earth Day and every day. Thank you.