Thursday, September 30, 2010

Isn’t this Ironic?

I work on a very lush, very nice university campus. The grounds are magnificent – an excellent variety of old trees, beautiful flowers, native grasses, shrubbery, exquisite water features and the greenest-weed free lawns I’ve ever witnessed all work to make it a haven for small animals and people. Many weddings are photographed on the grounds during the summer and fall. And with winter approaching, the trees are absolutely perfect with their harmonious blend of yellows, oranges and reds. It really is a visual treat walking to work in the cool crisp autumn air.

All over the grounds – affixed to buildings and free standing sign posts are warnings and messages. “Care for our air: all engines must be turned off or face penalty”, warnings about not smoking near building (air) intakes and other signs with messages about the University being “Green” and going the extra mile in caring for our environment. All events and groups (on campus) are encouraged to use recyclable plates and cutlery (made of sugar, I think) and recycling stations are provided. The use of Styrofoam has been all but banned as well.

This all sounds fantastic. Except it’s just a little bit hypocritical.

On my walk this morning, I wished for my camera – not to capture the magnificent sunrise or the splendid colours, but to capture the grounds staff using gas powered leaf blowers to blow leaves and dust off the sidewalks (and right beside the sign that professes the U’s love of the environment and doing their part to save the world)… And even as much as I detest leaf blowers, I know the argument can be made that it is cheaper to power one person with a leaf blower than five with brooms. But what I cannot entertain is that the person was wearing a dust mask with carbon filters (for his safety, I’m sure) but I was not wearing one and neither were the fifteen or so people around me and he blew the dust and debris right at all of us. I started to choke as did two others and then the fumes from the blower hit and I started coughing again.

So this event got me thinking about the people two blocks before who were blowing out the water lines for the underground sprinkler system… Campus does have the greenest grass, likely because it’s watered daily all summer – which I’m hoping is the reason we haven’t any weeds (healthy, lush grass can choke out even the most persistent of weeds) and not because they douse the lawns with egregious amounts of chemicals!

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