I was armed and ready, my green saucer-shaped shield bungeed to my bicycle's front basket. Energized by playful spirits and reveries of idyllic sledventures of winters' past, my excitement built all day, challenged only by unsolicited calls of caution -- endless tales of crashes and line-ups of ambulances at the helm.
"The hills are teeming with people" they warned, "crashing left and right." Admittedly, fearless though I often am, I was deterred, but only until dark, when the smiling moon would shine down on the glistening flakes and the masses of sledders would be snuggled in their toasty beds.
Cycling through the tranquil winter wonderland of our treasured park, beholding the glittery dark skies and vacant hills of white magnificence, the city's splendid slopes now called my name, beckoning more play and appreciation of mother nature's snow covered knolls. My green saucer-shaped shield resumed its sledding function and I elatedly carried her up to the top of the empty sledding paths.
Except it was anything but empty. It was a warzone. A plastic battlefield. A snowy synthetic apocalypse. Shards of plastic were strewn about, peppering the snow-covered slopes with colorful bits of rubble, edges sharp as knives. Debris of all shapes and sizes in scattered piles atop the hill overlooked the shattered wreckage down below. It was a plastic wasteland.
Kudos to the folks who traverse the slushy salty streets to make their way into our city's saving grace -- our beautiful parks where untouched snow and century-old trees are simply bucolic. Amen to those who enjoy the crisp fresh air and know how damn fun it is to toboggan down a worthy hill.
But seriously people, what in the world are you thinking? Are these plastic shards some type of present you've left for Mother Nature? Why oh why have you had your fun and left your plastic garbage behind?
Sledageddon blows my mind.
I take a break from my organic fury to relish in the resourcefulness and creativity of my fellow sledders. From Rubbermaid tubs to cafeteria trays, cardboard boxes and inflatable swans, our creative sledding inclinations are impressive (I personally tote a Frisbee at all times, ready at any moment to slither down a snowy hill.) I am baffled. Why have you left your clever creations in our green (now snowy white) oasis? Who do you think shall clean your dreadful mess? What shall we do with the extravagance you leave behind? Where will your plastic waste end up?
The most egregious calamity of Sledageddon however belongs to the pathetic pieces of plastic that somehow get labeled, sold and bought as sleds. I agree, they might be the same shape as sleds, but seriously folks, these flimsy pieces of pitiful plastic can't slide the lightest of us down a mountain without shattering. These fake sleds should be banned (along with their "disposable" plastic water bottle friends.) While they might seem like a low-priced great deal in the moment, we'll be paying the price for these sleds for years to come.
Plastic is Forever. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition:
Plastic creates toxic pollution at every stage of its existence: manufacture, use, and disposal. Plastic is a material that the Earth cannot digest. Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists, including the small amount that has been incinerated and has become toxic particulate matter.
I take a break from my vituperative condemnation of the afternoon's sledding enthusiasts and proceed to the top of the hill where I nestle into my green saucer sled (I found her in a "free stuff" pile last summer.) I briskly shoot down the urban slopes, picking up air and spinning in an awesome circle as I near the bottom. Filled with glee, I stare up at the towering trees' leafless branches and the purple sky above. Horizontal in the snow, I lie in wonderment, contemplating my joy and bliss in the midst of Sledageddon.
I climb the hill towards my bicycle, assembling a mere fraction of the useless shards into a larger pile, hopeful of a plastic miracle. I attach my green saucer-shaped shield to my basket and roll towards the park's pristine lake, stunningly lit by the smiling moon and home to a serene raft of ducks, gracefully dunking their heads in unison, fluttering and quacking a symphony of urban nature.
The scary scenes of Sledageddon deep in my mind, I am again energized by playful spirits and daydreams of a world free of plastic (except maybe my Frisbee.)