My husband and I spent 3 years in the midwest, Wisconsin specifically. What stood out to me about our time there was the warm welcoming hearts of the people, the way that they made the most of the few months of warm weather, and of course, the brutal cold. However, what most stood out to me was how clean it was. In the three years we were there I could probably count on one hand the number of pieces of litter that I saw. I could feel the pride that they had for not only their environment, but for themselves.
Having lived also in the northeastern and southeastern parts of the United States, and having driven through most everywhere in between, I can say that the same does not apply to these areas. I remember as a child, walking the beach with my grandfather and picking up trash to put in the very next receptacle we came across as we walked. Fast forward many many years and I am still doing the same thing, just in a different place.
I used to hold the equivalent of a director role at an urgent care that was located in an outparcel of a shopping plaza. Each morning I would ensure that the clinic was set to open and serve patients in need. And then I would don gloves, take a trash barrel and walk around the outside of the building encompassing the clinic and another office, through the parking lot, and up and down the streets surrounding the building. People cleaned out their cars and left their trash on the pavement. Cigarette butts and package wrappers were strewn about walkways and parking spaces. Half drank cans of beverages resided in mulch piles, obviously arriving via the open windows of cars as they passed by. An array of merchandise was scattered about the area around the dumpsters, a result of the poor aim and resulting choices of local businesses and residents.
It frustrated me to have had to clean up what should not have been left behind. I know it was my choice to do so, but I had to clean it up because it is't in me not to, I've been doing it my whole life. Why? Because litter is not only unpleasant to look at, it's also harmful:
Car accidents occur when drivers are trying to avoid any litter on roadways.
Unextinguished smoking materials can lead to harmful, destructive and even deadly fires.
People and animals can injure themselves or contract disease from certain types of litter.
Illegally dumped garbage can kill or stunt vital plant growth.
Wildlife habitats can be damaged or degraded.
Small animals can crawl into bottles or jars and get stuck and starve to death.
Birds, small animals and marine animals can eat or get tangled in plastic bags, plastic holders and other marine debris.
Chemicals can leach from cigarettes and other litter into the dirt, air and water, contaminating them and making unusable to sustain life.
Now, almost regularly, I drive down a beautiful lush street filled with palatial homes and sprawling farms while plastic jugs, beer cans, filled trash bags and other unwanted items dot the landscape. The only utterly clean areas are the pastures where the cows graze.
In some cultures, the cow has been known to be holy, long connected with the concept of “Mother Earth" - a source of goodness who's milk can nourish all creatures. Brown cows in particular are also said to remind us to stay grounded, humble and to take care of the environment.
You see, cows are able to get all the energy they need from plant material which we humans are not able to digest In doing so, they have been found to provide several environmental benefits.
They keep wildlife corridors open.
They prevent the spread of noxious weeds and promote the growth of local vegetative species.
They return approximately 85% of the nutrients they consume back to the pasture, which, in turn, benefits the plants and the whole ecosystem.
A cow, just by being a cow, takes care of the whole environment around it. It leaves a minimal footprint and for that it is revered.
Studies have shown that people litter because:
There is already litter in the area.
The laws prohibiting littering are not enforced.
There is a lack of access to trash receptacles.
They are just plain careless.
But if we really dig deep and think about it, if we had pride in ourselves, and cared about something other than ourselves, it would not even cross our minds to litter. It would not matter what the laws were, and it would not matter where there was a trash receptacle. We would not be careless, but we would likely pick up the trash that was already there. We would want to take care of our environment and leave as minimal a footprint as we could.
So the next time a napkin blows off of your picnic table, you go to flick your cigarette butt out of the car window or something falls out of the bed of your pick up truck, think of our bovine friends, and hold onto your unwanted stuff until you reach a trash receptacle, We all need to help take care of our planet for future generations, and in the meantime, you just may feel a little better about things too.
All cattle are commonly referred to as cows, however, this is not always correct Different terms are given to cattle based on their age and reproductive status. A cow is defined as a female that has given birth to at least one calf. A heifer is a female cow that has not had any offspring.
Cows have an incredible sense of smell and can detect odors up to six miles away. This helps them to navigate their relationships, take in information about their environment, and respond to threats. A cow can detect the scent of stress hormones present in the urine of other cows, which helps them to avoid danger!
Cows have 32 teeth, yet have no upper front teeth. They cut up the blades of grass, or hay, they are wanting to eat by pressing their sharp bottom teeth against the top hard palate of their mouth. A cow will "chew" about 40-50 times a minute for up to eight hours a day, which equals out to moving their jaws approximately 40,000 times a day. This means that they spend about 40% of their time chewing.
Cows need social and physical connection. These bovines love to be pet by humans, but they enjoy contact from other cows even more so. Cows stay together, only separating if they are ill or to give birth, and they will lick each other as a way to bond. Connecting socially and physically not only make the cows happier, but it also, as studies have shown, makes them function better cognitively.
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