Friday, April 19, 2013

A little trash talk

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — I think it’s about time for a little trash talk.
April is, after all, the month for the Great American Cleanup Day (more than 1,000 signed up to help spruce things up here on April 13). It’s also the month when we officially celebrate Earth Day (April 22).
But more and more people seem to feel that the awareness of humanity has progressed (and alas, the environmental crises has escalated) to the point that every day should be Earth Day, if we are going to save and preserve our home planet.
There may be a lot of discouraging news as the ravages of climate change mount, but there is a ray of hope, and if you’re like me, it’s as close as your home garbage dumpsters.
The last time my son visited from clean, green, way-ahead-of-the-rest-of-us Oregon, he told me that those progressive folks have a pick-up schedule that’s just the reverse of ours. In Portland, the recycled vat is collected weekly, and regular garbage pickup is every two weeks.
When I first moved to Oregon in the early 1970s, they had already cleaned up their rivers. Even in the best of times, it’s always been tough for me to think of our Rio as anything close to Grande, after seeing the mighty Columbia and Willamette rivers. And more than four decades ago, Oregonians had already figured out how to pass and implement bottle return and auto emission control programs … neither of which have managed to make it to the Land of Enchantment.
Though I’d lived in countries and states that were relatively environmentally oblivious, it was still a shock to move to New Mexico, a place with a very fragile ecology, and find so little in the way of conservation, preservation and cleanup.
We do have some admirable efforts made by local groups, including, but certainly not limited to, the Southwest Environmental Center, Keep Las Cruces Beautiful, the Green Chamber and many other dedicated individuals and organizations.
So while I’m trash talking about our failures and limitations, I’d like to also talk about some inspiring bright spots and potentials in the area of  — you guessed it — trash.
Many of my friends and I have noticed that when it comes to being ready to emulate Portland’s trash pickup schedule,  we are already there.
Most weeks, my big brown dumpster contains just one tiny little bag of garbage, which I could probably eliminate all together if I were a little more ambitious about composting. Nearly everything going out of the house goes into the big blue recycling bin these days.
Unlike some critics, I always enjoy seeing rows of those azure receptacles. As it happens, they’re my favorite color, but even if they weren’t, I’d still love what they represent: a whole city thinking about recycling.
Ecologically enlightened progress is being made. And while we’re talking trash, let’s acknowledge that Las Cruces may be in the international vanguard of artistic garbage.
Next time you’re downtown, look down back streets and into alleys and check out the creative dumpster decor created by Alma d’arte students.
And I love that what many consider Las Cruces’ semi-official symbol is sculptor Olin Calk’s giant roadrunner, concocted our of recycled refuge.
Olin recently told me  he’s just gotten the official word: the famed and recently refurbished bird will soon be returning to its old territory at the I-10 rest area just west of Las Cruces. Plans are underway to design and construct a new perch to help protect and preserve the beloved bird.
Yes, we have a lot more to do to protect, clean up and preserve our fragile high desert lands for new generations. I’m looking forward to seeing our mascot again, an inspiring reminder that living green every day can be creative, rewarding, beautiful and fun.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at; 575-541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

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