In search of Happiness… How to live like Gandhi
To mark Recycle Week, Jennifer Crowther looks at litter with fresh eyes.
**Breaking news: Mahatma Gandhi was a very good and wise man.
Ok so this is not news, but it’s definitely worth repeating and revisiting every now and again.
Gandhi’s probably my favourite historical figure to quote. He was the master of the personal development sound bite. For the purposes of this article we’re going with possibly the most famous one… “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I’d been aware of this quote for a long time but the practical application of it had never quite hit home; until a few weeks ago, when I went to see a film about happiness, called ‘Happy’ at my local independent cinema – the Hyde Park Picture House.
As I was walking home, this quote was circulating in my brain, as it had featured in the film. It was a pretty powerful film and I was feeling inspired and affected by its message. As I looked at the litter on the street around my home, I thought to myself
“I wish people wouldn’t drop litter, this neighbourhood is so pretty, it really spoils it.”
You’ve probably guessed what happened then…
(“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”)
Of course! Eureka! If you want to change the amount of litter on the street, pick it up! It seemed so simple. So for the remaining five minutes of my walk home I picked up every piece of litter I saw and recycled it when I got in.
The next morning I set off for work five minutes early with a plastic bag in my hand. I filled it with litter and dropped it in the bin outside the local shop. I planned to do this every day, but actually, the street didn’t need cleaning again for almost a week. So now it’s a weekly ritual.
And my neighbourhood is so much prettier.
Maybe my neighbours have noticed, maybe they haven’t. But I know the street is litter-free and it gives me satisfaction to know that I made that difference.
We’re so accustomed to litter; we almost don’t see it anymore. But once your awareness is awakened it’s everywhere and it’s ugly.
To celebrate Recycle Week, even if you just pick up one piece of litter and put it in the next bin you get to, imagine how the streets would look if everyone did the same.
This thought is at the heart of sustainability – don’t just wish for the change.
Be the change.