Cleaning Your Local Spaces: ''Shaucha'' and Spring
For Oceans Week, Arianne took Shaucha and spring-cleaning up a notch by cleaning part of the Lachine Canal in the southwestern region of Montréal Island. Read more to learn about Shuacha and what she found in this post.
Spring - the change in nature’s cycles that we longingly await after tough Canadian winter months. A season that engenders motivation to clean winter’s mess in our homes, emerging the need for spring-cleaning. Not only does the dawn of spring induce a sigh of relief and the pungent smell of lilacs, but it also begets a sense of satisfaction, especially when it comes to cleaning our homes. Cleaning is ingrained in us and is part of age-old wisdom and beliefs. For instance, an important virtue in Hinduism and Jainism, and a cardinal duty in yoga for healthy living, is the Sanskrit term “Shaucha”, which means purity and cleanliness. It goes without saying, that living in a cleaner version of our homes simply feels GOOD. In a clean home, we breathe better, we think clearer, and we function optimally.
Our home is not only defined by the confined spaces between the walls and the roof of a house. Our home extends beyond the physical structure of a dwelling. Our home incorporates the world where we interact, and our home encompasses this planet on which we live, providing us life and our basic our necessities. Our home includes our communities, our countries, our waterways, and our neighbours. Our home beyond the walls of our house also requires Shaucha, and this home requires spring-cleaning as well.
There are several approaches in applying Shaucha, and spring-cleaning to the spaces that expand outside of our dwellings. We can get remarkably creative with these methods! In this blog post, however, we will keep it simple, and demonstrate how backyard & neighbourhood and local garbage clean-ups do just the trick. Backyard & Neighborhood Clean-Ups
Like many places in North America, when the snow melts, there is a reveal of what laid dormant under the blankets of snow. Although spring is beautiful and makes us think of flowers, the transition of seasons can expose the dishevelled and grubby realities of our cities and public spaces.
While taking walks in my neighbourhood, I often notice beautiful spaces that need a bit of attention, and no doubt need a bit of spring-cleaning. On a Sunday like any other, I thought to myself ‘’Why not clean those spaces?’’. So, I chose a spot and went for it. After about 2 hours of picking up trash, sweeping, raking leaves and decayed pine needles, 5 garbage bags were summoned, and a new clean space emerged! And I must say, it felt really good.
Check it out:
A before and after documentation of a small-scale neighbourhood clean-up in one of Montréal’s boroughs. Local Community Clean-Up
The simple act of cleaning a small, shared neighbourhood space, left me with a sense of fulfilment and motivation. With this week’s theme of Oceans Week, I decided I wanted to apply Shaucha and spring-cleaning elsewhere in my community and to take it up a notch.
Thus, I contacted my pal Alicia, and we sought out to clean a portion of the Lachine Canal, a controlled waterway that passes through the southwestern regions of Montréal Island. We packed rubber gloves, tongs, 10 garbage bags, and spent 3 hours cleaning a 40-meter stretch on the southeastern side of the canal, near the borough of St. Henri. Luckily, the water levels were low, which allowed us to accomplish our mission.
Lachine Canal: top right and bottom left are photos depicting the 40-meter area cleaned. Bottom left photo also shows the Old Canadian Malting Factory. In a 20 meter radius, we filled 7 garbage bags full of trash. From a distance, we assumed we would only gather a few bags of garbage. However, we evaluated wrong; it was not obvious how much waste was actually present. Half of the litter was embedded into the ground, having only parts of its surface exposed. Moreover, a lot of junk was wedged between rocks and boulders. We had to tug at many old plastic bags in order to dislodge them from the dried-up sediment and boulders. The clean-up was physically demanding, especially because it was very hot, and the garbage bags became quite heavy, very quickly. It was like environmental cross-fit! We received the odd hand-clap, thumbs-up, ‘’thank you’’, and ‘’oh, that’s nice of you!’’, from on-lookers, bikers, and pedestrians. Overall, it was so worthwhile and we would do it again in a heartbeat! If you are curious, here is an exhaustive list of items we found, full of the typical culprits: • Medical masks • Coffee cups and lids • Beer and water bottles (60+) (many of them crushed and lots of broken glass all over) • Beer cans (71) • Aerosol cans, • Plastic bags (80+) • Detergent containers • Children’s toys (a plastic Dreidle and a wooden bead maze game, encrusted in shells) • Bike • Drinking plastic straw – only 1! • Shoes and a boot • Food wrappers • Tin foil wrapping • Polystyrene foam • Plastic and metal bottle caps • Fishing lines • Broken hockey stick • Metal debris from abandoned machinery • Clothing • Tent • Cigarette butts • Wires and cables • Kayak first aid kit • Bike lock • Orange city cone • Pieces of building materials • Feminine hygiene products • Company signs • Unidentified & miscellaneous objects.
Thousands of people bike, walk, skateboard, roller-blade, run, or drive-by public and shared areas, covered in garbage, every, single, day….and it is not every day, that people like you and I take the initiative to apply practices such as Shaucha or spring-cleaning to these areas. We certainly do not need spring or Oceans Week to be the catalysts for change, responsibility, and initiative. We should, inherently, respect these precious areas that are outside of our house, yet still remain extensions of our home.
I hope the positive actions shared with you in this blog, inspire you to take directional steps in spring-cleaning, and encourage you to practice Shaucha, in your homes away from home.
Happy Oceans Week everyone!
Arianne LaBoissonnière has recently joined Stop Trashing It as an ambassador. Originally from Vancouver, though she is now located in Montréal, QC. She enjoys finding methods to be self-sufficient and self-sustainable and sharing these trends to increase environmental education.