Színes Ötletek

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From Leaf-Boats to Decades-Old Tires - Report on the I. Zero Waste Tour of Colors & Ideas

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It all started when we went out leaf-boating with the kid a few weeks ago. It's actually a subtle lulling technique, as the world is usually too interesting for our little girl to start her afternoon quiet time without any opposition. We walk up along the Szinva in a pushchair, go down to the shore every few hundred metres, find some dry leaves, stick sticks of the right size through them, and even start the miniature Blue Ribbon several times a day. The trick is that after two or three of these stops, you're guaranteed to sleep in the pram. Plus, there's no cheaper toy than this, even though we've exhausted the subject in recent years. (That said, the devil is always on my shoulder to do a tutorial on how to make one, as a kind of Dadaist creative hobby article. Once it's published, I'm tempted.) The point is, sleep just wouldn't come during said session, so we made it all the way to Gábor Bodnár Scout Park. And there - as unfortunately almost everywhere in Hungary - it was striking how much rubbish was spoiling the otherwise beautiful natural environment.

To pick or not to pick: a rhetorical question.

I'm not going to go into a tirade about why, if one has the desire to spend time in nature, one should not have the desire not to throw away the rubbish. But it's a bit like someone going to a party and, in gratitude - I'll try to put it in a more presentable way - putting a nice plate funnel in the middle of the garden. I never understood it. But the idea was born then and there: if it's already a Plastic-Free July, and we often write about eco-lifestyle, we can do something about it with a small investment of time and energy. This is how we came up with the idea of the 1st Zero Waste Tour, which is obviously not a revolutionary initiative, because many people have been doing it on a larger scale for much longer - see initiatives like the Pet Cup - but we thought that our neighbourhood is our responsibility.

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Adventures in rubber gloves and boots

On Saturday morning at 9am, after a quick breakfast, we set off. To our delight, we were not alone in the task, as we were joined by some enthusiastic volunteers, some of whom had travelled hundreds of kilometres to help. And nothing else really happened, we just went for a walk in the park and then further up the valley of the Csanyik stream, where the Mahóca branch line of the Lillafüred railway line runs. This area is a childhood favourite of mine, so much so that I once even shot a DIY video clip here, but as this is not a music magazine, we'll leave that thread untangled for now.

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I had the creek bed as a task, I had prepared for it with a pair of rubber boots, which of course got full of water the first possible time I got to a deeper part, but being a bright, sunny summer morning I didn't mind that much. It's quite an experience to walk into parts of a place you've known for decades that would be much more difficult to access on dry feet. It is also an opportunity to see the rich wildlife near where you live. Not ten minutes or so after we had set off, I managed to spot a burly dice snake waiting for prey in the water, which surprised me a little, as it is not a very common species here, but rather a species that many of us might be familiar with from the shores of Lake Balaton. But it was also an interesting sight - especially for the youngest member of our team, aged two and a half - when we came across a complete frog cradle on one stretch of beach, with thumbnail-sized youngsters leaping into the water in front of us in droves.

It was also a real Aha! moment when I realised that the reason, I had picked up enough plastic bottles to fill a full 180-litre bag in one of the bends in the river wasn't because everyone had thrown them in there. It was because the water washed ashore everything that the stream had collected over the kilometres it had travelled. I had a good laugh at myself because I was quicker to blame human intervention, but unfortunately there are few good examples in this area. As if to prove the point, a few hundred metres upstream we came across an illegal landfill, complete with a complete sofa set, half a fridge and who knows how much other earthly goodness. We can only congratulate him, but of course we cleared it up by the end of the hike. And the crown jewel was the three washed-out car tyres, the memory of which is straight from my teenage years, having seen them dumped in the creek at the time, although that was, sadly, very recently.

If you are planning a similar trip, please note the following!

  • Contact the waste management company in your area to arrange for the collection of your rubbish! In our case, MiReHu Non-profit Ltd. not only helped us with the transport, but also provided us with the bags for the collection, for which we would like to thank them.
  • If this is not possible, or the quantity does not justify it, it is up to the participants to arrange for the removal of the waste, as leaving it anywhere without notification is considered illegal dumping, regardless of the nobility of the intention.
  • If you can, look out for selective collection, as, for example, soft drink cans are 100% recyclable without any deterioration in quality, and it would be a waste to burden municipal waste with such things.
  • What you should take with you: rubber or work gloves, hand sanitiser, snacks, water - especially if you are planning a hike in the summer - and separate or marked bags for your separate waste.
  • Don't wear your best clothes! :)

Summary

Without going into all the details, here are a brief lesson is a nutshell. In total, in 3 hours and 6 kilometres, 6 volunteers - not counting the smallest member of the team - collected about 3 cubic metres of rubbish. We sweated a bit, some of us got a bit dirty here and there, but we were out in the open air, we had fun, we visited beautiful places, which are now a bit cleaner thanks to us. The joy of doing good is free for everyone, but it is all the more precious for the moments it brings.

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Of course, we know that in global terms it means almost nothing. We have not found solutions to the problem of renewable, green energy, the cyclical economy or the oil price explosion. But it will still be nice to walk through this place next time, knowing that for at least a few weeks now, thanks to us, it will not look like a dump in a park forest. It's uplifting to think that we were the ones who took the trouble to haul decades of decaying tyres out of a stream bed. Such experiences, minutes, hours and days of precious time, are often a lifeline even when bad news is everywhere. If you want to test whether your theory is being tested by the touchstone of practice, grab a bin bag any weekend or whenever you have time! You will certainly not harm anyone or anything with this kind of activity.

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