I’m not trying to brag or anything, but it’s common knowledge amongst my friends, my family, my coworkers, that I’m the most Earth-friendly guy around. I love the earth. I’m always walking around with my head down to the ground, one, to admire it, the earth, I just love looking at it, and two, I’m scanning my immediate surroundings for any litter. If I spot some litter, I immediately pick it up off the ground. If there’s a trashcan nearby, I’ll pitch it in there, I’ll brush my hands together in satisfaction, looking around at everybody, seeing if anybody’s looking at me, thinking to themselves, wow, that guy really cares, he really loves the earth, the planet. And maybe the litterer is still around. Maybe he or she saw me pick up the litter. And that person will be touched, like, jeez, one person really can make a difference. If there aren’t any trashcans around, I’ll put it into this biodegradable tote bag that I carry on me specifically for this reason, for finding trash but being too far away from a trashcan. The tote bag says, “I heart Earth,” you know, but it doesn’t say the word heart, it’s a picture of a heart.
And then when I do find a trashcan I’ll dump out the contents of my tote bag which, depending on how far away I’ve been from a trashcan, it might be pretty full. One time it was very full, and when I finally found a trashcan, when I finally started dumping everything out, some police officer came over and was like, “Hey buddy! You can’t dump your trash into that trashcan!” and I was like, “What are you talking about? Isn’t this what the trashcans are here for?” and he was like, “Yeah, for individual pieces of trash. You can’t dump all of your trash in there.” And so I told him, about the tote bag, I showed him the tote bag, I explained that I go around scanning the earth for litter, than I collect it and dispose of it properly.
The police officer looked at me and even though his facial expression remained quite stern, I could tell that I’d gotten through to him somehow. He took out his ticket book and started writing out a violation. And then I thought, oh man, maybe I haven’t gotten through to him. But then he showed the ticket. And this is what he wrote: “Name: Litter – Violation: Pollution – Recommended Sentence: Awareness. Compassion. Renewal.”
I looked him in the eye. I said, “Something has changed inside of you, hasn’t it?” and he said, “Yes. Yes it has,” and he opened up his hand and the wind took the ticket and carried it into the air. So I was like, “Wait a second, what are you doing?” and he said, “I just wrote up pollution, for littering,” but I was like, “But … but you just littered. That ticket. That’s going to fall somewhere. That’s litter.”
And then I looked at him again, and it was the same as before, an almost identical facial expression, but still I could tell that even more had changed inside of him. This time it was more than just awareness, more than simply an expansion of his universal consciousness. This time there was a tinge of remorse. He flipped the page in his ticket book and wrote another citation, but this one was for himself, for littering. The fine was pretty steep, five hundred bucks. And this time he ripped the ticket out of the ticket book, he handed it to me and told me to hand it back to him. I did. I nodded at him, like saying without saying, “You’ve taken a big step here officer,” and I think that he was saying without saying, “Thank you.”
Look, I’m just one man, one man who loves the Earth. I really, really love it. My favorite Planeteer was always the earth Planeteer. Whenever I have to pick out a color, for anything, I try to choose an earth tone. When I’m at a restaurant and the waiter asks me if I’d like a glass of wine, I always ask which one has the earthiest flavors. If I have a daughter someday, I plan on naming her Bertha, so that way I’ll get to say Earth every time I say her name. Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I’ve tweaked this statement somewhat. I always say, “Be the change that you wish to see in the earth.” Because I love the earth even more than Gandhi did. And whenever people say, “Wow Rob, who came up with that quote?” I reply, “Me. I did.”