This past Father’s Day weekend I took a trip with my family and in-laws to Pelee Island and I have to say I was a little disheartened by some of my observations. First, let me say that most of these people that I have known for years (not just my family) have been kind, welcoming and fun to be around, and I have no personal issues with any of them. That being said, I am disappointed in some of the attitudes toward environmental stewardship.
As we walked down to the boats to prepare to leave, I saw several cigarette butts floating in the water. As a person that has been advocating for the health of the lake for some time now, this really bothered me, but I bit my tongue for the sake of my husband as I did not want to put a damper on his day. A group of boaters that we were to travel with were standing on the docks and having a chit chat about our local National Park and how a new observation tower is being built. Someone mentioned that the project had been put on hold due to an endangered species having been discovered in the area chosen for the tower. Everyone rolled their eyes and basically proclaimed that those darn endangered species are such a nuisance. I was frustrated by what I was hearing and it was becoming a little more difficult to keep quiet. I began to wonder, do they remember what it is I’m trying to do for the environment? Do they realize the negative affect they are having?
We left the marina without incident, since I was on my best behavior, but to my surprise, the boat we traveled in was followed by a thick cloud of black smoke that left a trail the entire way to the island. I felt like a hypocrite for being on the boat at all. I felt helpless wondering why these talented engine builders couldn’t seem to reduce the harmful exhaust that was being released by the boat that they had worked on all winter. No one seemed to mind though. They looked at the smoke from where they sat and they chuckled about for a moment and then moved on with their day.
After all these things I had already observed, finally something happened and I could no longer hush my mouth. My son was eating a freezie and he looked around for a place to put the plastic garbage that was leftover. His grandmother casually said, “just throw it over board.”
I began to speak up to say “Um, no, we don’t put garbage in the lake”, but before I could do that, my son looked at his grandmother with disbelief and swiftly informed her that he would not be throwing it over board.
“What do you think I am, a litter bug?” he asked. I smiled and held out my hand for the garbage which he passed to me and I sat in proud silence for the rest of the ride.
Thank you future generations for being brave little eco warriors and standing up for what you believe in. I don’t know why some of the older people, including my own generation seem to have such a disconnect and nonchalance when it come to the way they treat the environment around them, but I am grateful that you see things differently. It seems that we still have a long way to go but I will do my part and support you as you do yours. Let’s keep up the good work even if others won’t. A million small changes can make one big impact.