A Modest Proposal: The Clean Streets Brigade

I would like to make what I feel is a modest proposal that will help make the streets a bit cleaner if not entirely clean. I walk the streets every day from when I go to the synagogue in the morning, often in the dark, until I am walking back home at night. I encounter far too much trash along the way, seemingly no matter what route I choose. There is, unfortunately, only so much that I am able to pick up and relocate in the proper receptacles. We can ask ourselves why the streets are so dirty but knowing the answer today won’t make them any cleaner tomorrow.

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The Brilliance of Repair Cafes

We live in a society in which it is almost always easier and cheaper to replace something than to get it fixed and in which we throw away our perfectly functioning devices with slightly newer devices because they happen to be just a little bit faster and have a bit more shine to them. (I am guilty of this, having bought an iPhone 4 even though my iPhone 3G was still more than adequate!) One of the big problems is that with so much manufacturing being outsourced to China, the devices on which we rely are far cheaper than if they were domestically produced by workers being paid a fair wage. If your $5 calculator breaks it would probably cost $20 to get it repaired anywhere, if you are lucky. Since you could get four calculators for that much money, it makes more sense financially to just throw your calculator in the bin and to get another.

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Litter Bugging

I was walking home one afternoon recently and had a couple of big heavy bags loaded with groceries. I would stop every now and again to adjust the load because I probably overdid it — there’s a good reason the conventional wisdom is to never shop when you are hungry. While walking, I observed a man several feet ahead of me taking sips of coffee from a cup, who abruptly stopped walking. He took a final sip of his drink and put the cup upside down on a hedge in front of someone’s home before dashing off and going to his own apartment building.

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Disposable Society

Jim thought that he was a pretty good member of society. He paid his taxes, never stole, and helped people across the street when necessary. Yet somehow he managed to do an immeasurable amount of damage without realizing that he was doing it.

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