The Gustavian Weekly

Keep our community clean | The Gustavian Weekly

By James Harlan - Opinion Columnist | May 11, 2018 | Opinion

One of the many trails through the Linnaeus Arboretum.

One of the many trails through the Linnaeus Arboretum.

Warm weather is here.

We all want to be outside enjoying the sun, the trees, our friends, and the lovely feeling one gets from being surrounded by the color green.

Hammocking, playing games, and hiking are all enjoyable parts of this experience, and the one place most Gusties choose to embrace the outdoors is in the Linnaeus Arboretum here on campus.

The Arb is an amazing place: full of wildlife, diverse vegetation, meditation spaces, and beautifully maintained gardens.

It has played a huge role in my time at Gustavus as a retreat from the many stressors of college life, so the Arb is important to me and to so many other people for whom it has performed a similar service.

Because of these factors, you can imagine my surprise two weeks ago when I ventured back out into the deepest part of the coniferous forest section of the Arb and discovered my favorite hammocking spot had been desecrated.

Multiple cardboard food “to-go” boxes littered the ground, pages and pages of paper were scattered everywhere, and an impressively sized pile of beer and soda cans stood to one side.

It was absolutely disgusting. My initial reaction was simply anger.

Here is this space which means so much to me, and it’s been treated like a literal trashcan by some other Arb-goers.

I don’t know what inspired this barrage of garbage—It might’ve been left from the previous fall and covered all winter by snow, or it might have been the remnants of the first group to make it out to the Arb after the first thaw.

Either way someone made the decision to drop that trash, and then made another decision to leave it and make it someone else’s problem.

So, I’d like to say that I’m disappointed, Gusties.

We have this incredibly valuable resource at our disposal and some of us can’t be bothered to preserve its integrity by cleaning up after ourselves.

We need to do better. Every American has been taught since we were little not to litter, and yet here we are.

Maybe we need to provide more trash cans around the Arb entrances, but that’s not the point of this article—The point is, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and the actions we take.

If you’re going to be bringing disposable things into the Arb, you need to be responsible enough to carry them out.

Don’t ruin this space for your classmates and friends because you decided you didn’t want to carry out your trash.

Be a better person than that.

Waste in an area specifically designated for wildlife is harmful and gross.

Squirrels, birds, deer, rabbits, coyotes- all exist within those trees and fields, and leaving garbage out there poses a risk to every animal that stumbles upon it.

So, clean up after yourselves.

You’re not the only person or thing that uses this shared space, so you need to own your actions and do your own part to preserve this wonderful place you’ve been given.

A simple rule to follow is this: if you wouldn’t throw it on the ground and leave it while someone was watching you, you probably shouldn’t be throwing it on the ground at all.