The Power of ONE

This is Peter, a friend of the environment. Often I meet Peter on my early morning walk. I see him picking up trash on the beach in front of where I do my exercises. The first time I saw him, I thought perhaps he was a worker for someone in the area, someone who wanted to do their bit to clean up the plastic waste that is always washing up onto the shore.

I walked over to him and asked, “Are you working for someone?” “No”, he replied, “It is so dirty here; it needs cleaning. Sometimes people give me something. I have a family and it helps.” Before I left, I gave him a few pesos and I said, “Peter, this a thank you from the environment”.

Perhaps it was his smile, or his apparent desire to do a good job, so I believed him. I did not see Peter until several days had passed. There he was again, working hard to clean that part of the beach, always with a smile. I asked him if he came every day and he said almost every day. Since I do not go to that area at exactly the same time I knew it was entirely possible that we did not always cross paths. He did not ask me for anything until one day he asked me to help him buy the black bags he used to collect the trash. And I did. I see Peter only occasionally now but I still see him doing that bit for the environment. So I always carry some change so I can give him a thank you. Also I have discovered there are others who do the same.

Perhaps Peter has found an innovative way to earn some money, not very much, but it helps him survive. And what he does inspires me to look for small ways I can help the environment. Every empty cereal box is flattened in my home, coated with gesso and used as a canvas for a small painting. We do not have a recycling program here, but I try hard to reuse whatever plastic containers become empty. The young woman who comes once a week to help me clean takes the empty mayonnaise jars to fill with her own recipe of a sweet confection to sell in her balcony store. I am always surprised how everything is reused here, or creatively repaired. One only has to put an old chair or appliance out in the garbage and it is picked up by a passerby.

All over the world there are individuals performing small acts to help save the environment. They do not make the headlines but they have more impact than we know.

Do you know a Peter in your part of the world? Please share the story if you do. Perhaps you have a creative way to reuse something. Tell us about it.

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