Trash! There’s Plenty for Everyone!

Beth GoodeBy Beth Goode      November 27, 2020

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Trash! There’s Plenty for Everyone!
Photo by Beth Goode Trash Warrior Joseph Rosend0 found himself cleaning up the creek on November 1.
Welcome, Nature Lovers! The scenic vistas and shaded gullies await you in Topanga. The creek pools into ponds that are graced with giant boulders and tall grasses. Untamed nature and wildlife are here to embrace you in their raw radiance. The music of the leaves rustling in the tall maples soothes the soul and the sounds of the water trickling in spots and rushing by in others help to calm the nerves. It is paradise on earth. Then visitors and neighbors come to enjoy her splendor, and the bountiful beauty is broken by the mass of trash they leave behind. But never fear, the Topanga Canyon Trash Warriors are here! On Sunday, November 1, we filled 21 bags with refuse and a car bench seat. (If you lost it, we found it!) We did not get to the entire Boulevard that day, so those 21 bags don’t even begin to represent the total amount of garbage lining our canyon’s main road that week. I do not post these trash missives to engender accolades. I post them to encourage others to engage in the task of tending to our planet with our group, on your own, or by starting your own trash cleanup group. Alas, by Monday, since I cannot help myself as I drive down the canyon, I collected another full bag of litter, and there was more, but I ran out of time. Yes, I am that woman, muttering to herself, bag flapping in the wind as cars rush by, whom you see on the roadsides on any given day, bagging debris in defiance of humanity’s indifference to the plight of our planet. There were at least another few bags-worth by Tuesday noon from the beach up to town. It’s never-ending. It’s mind-boggling that someone would drive through this landscape, especially when it is all cleaned up, and decide to throw garbage out of their car window onto a countryside scene such as ours. We also find a plethora of litter in the pullouts after folks work on their cars or campers vacate. To round out the Sunday morning spent tidying up after our fellow humans, I found Joseph Rosendo down by the creek at the large turnout just before the two-mile bridge as you drive to the ocean. I had stopped there to check out the trash situation because the turnout is used as a dumping ground for construction debris and the like. I heard rustling and clanging down below in the creek. My first thought was that someone was dumping trash down there while I stood above on the road. “Caught red-handed,” I thought. “Hello down there?” To my surprise, Joseph peeked out from behind some trees and proudly, but fully forlorn, showed me a full Caltrans bag with items he’d collected down by the creek: Big empty air mattress boxes, empty bottles and cans, all manner of camping accoutrements, and the always present toilet paper and food wrappers. It really is lovely down there with the sound of the water heading to the ocean, the wild natural setting of trees, grasses, big rock formations. The litter adds nothing to the esthetics of the place, and we were both confused by it. Visitors were clearly enjoying the surroundings. What was the point of spoiling it? We are often baffled by the behavior we witness here in the open, unaffected landscape of Topanga, the beauty of it juxtaposed to the tarnishing ugliness of human nature. Joseph had slid on his butt down the steep hillside all the way to the creek below to collect the debris; the climb back up was heroic. With his weighty bag in one hand and his trash grabber in the other, he zig-zagged his way up the embankment sliding with the loose dirt as it moved under his feet. I took the bag from him when he was about four feet from the top, and he scrambled up on all fours to emerge onto the roadside. This man loves his canyon and is devoted to caring for it. He and Roger Pugliese started cleaning up the Boulevard about six years ago. They were two lone men just sick and tired of looking at the destruction all around them. Their efforts evolved into the present-day Topanga Canyon Trash Warriors who are equally devoted in tackling the waste left behind in the wake of human activity. Bravo for them! We, Earth’s children, stand ready to defend her against the wreckage left on her body. Although we have tried, it is not for us to understand human behavior. We are here to defend our Mother as she continues to support and love us. If you’d care to join in the immense camaraderie that has emerged among the warriors, and the joy we experience each morning when we meet, then gather after clearing the roadsides, come down to the Topanga post office at 7 a.m. any Sunday. We will deck you out with everything you need for a successful romp on the canyon road and joyously welcome you into our fold. There’s plenty of trash to go around!
Beth Goode

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November 27, 2020

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