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Leave the World a Little Better

A brother teaches his sister a powerful lesson about her environmental legacy. 

Leave the World a Little Better

A jumble of aluminum cans, candy wrappers, and plastic bags lay scattered across the sand. Looking at it made me sad, and—I’ll admit it—kind of mad. “What’s wrong with people?” I grumbled to my brother Dave, “Are they selfish, or just stupid?”

Dave, and I were walking from his home into nearby Manzanita, a small town with a wide, sandy beach on the Oregon coast, backed by mountains and evergreen forests. It’s beautiful. Yet, even here, folks left trash. That bothered me.

Soon though, the sound of the waves mellowed my mood. At the coffee shop, we sipped coffee and chatted. By the time we left, I’d forgotten about the trash. 

“I’ll catch up with you back at the house,” I called, as Dave headed home and I wandered into an art shop.   

Later heading back to Dave’s house, I was back on the beach. I knew I’d be walking past that trash. But when I got to the spot, I was surprised. There was no trash to be seen. It was gone. All of it. I was mystified.

But coming up Dave’s back porch, I found that pile of trash. Mystery solved. Dave had quietly picked it up, and put it in the bag to take to the recycling center.

I had grumbled. Dave had done something.

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He made the world a cleaner, more beautiful place. Also, by recycling, he saved energy. Maybe most important, he taught his sister a lesson. Leave the world a little better than you found it. Now, when I am on a beach or at a park, I pick up some trash. Maybe it’s just one soda can or one candy wrapper, but I pick up something.  

 

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