The snow has finally melted from my area, and as I went for my morning jog today, I saw foot after foot of litter strewn on the side of the road. Cigarette butts, beer and soda and ice tea containers, empty cigarette packs, fast food containers, unwrapped condoms, papers, plastic bags, to name just a few. If you can think of it, it was laying somewhere along my two mile route.
Many of the homes in my area have woods bordering the road, or they have a small treed area between the road and their home. Apparently, litterers think that’s a great place to throw their trash.
When you are too lazy to take your garbage to your destination and put it in a trash container (because that is simply SOOO hard to do), and you just toss it out the window, you are putting people and animals at risk, to say nothing of the way you’re making our country look. By the way, in case it’s not evident, this is my pet peeve.
Danger to pets
Twice a day, our gorgeous Siberian Husky Halo, a big attention lover and mush, gets taken for a walk up and down the nearby roads. She never harmed you; why would you risk harming her? There are broken glass beer bottles, with glass chunks right on the shoulder of the road. Does that sound pet-friendly? She smelled something a few days ago and started moving towards it, and I had to yank her away. Two opened condoms were on the side of the road. Were they used? Did something get put in them that didn’t belong there? What would have happened had she actually put one of them in her mouth and swallowed? Death by rubber? It’s simply not funny.
Danger to people
And what about danger to the people who live in the area? One of the most prevalent things I see are cigarette butts. I’m sure many are chucked out the window while still lit. Really? You want to cause a fire to my property or my home? You want to endanger the people that live there? Come on, wake up. Piles of cigarette butts are not pretty, they don’t add to the landscape, and they put everyone in danger.
Another potential danger could result from all the garbage that is thrown into nearby streams. What does that do to the drainage system when all the stuff clogs pipes? You can bet that’s part of the reason the drainage in our area doesn’t always work properly and puddles and ice encroach on the road. Does any of the garbage get into ground water, and then eventually into drinking water? I don’t know, but I’m sure it’s a possibility.
Our town is very pretty, with lots of forests, trees, greenery, and the like. Are you trying to make a new age art statement by throwing plastic containers out your car window? Do you think it adds to the beauty of the area? Ummmmm, it doesn’t! It looks horrible, some of it can smell horrible, and it’s simply not enjoyable.
How to stop the damage
So what can be done to eliminate this scourge?
- Well, obviously, number one is that those of you who think it is fine to throw things out the window need to realize it’s not fine. If you can carry a full can of soda INTO the car, you can certainly carry an empty can out of the car. It’s lighter. It’s crushable. It’s EASIER to take it back out. If you have a child and that child gets a diaper change, well, wrap it up and keep it until you reach your destination. Don’t make my front yard your personal garbage dump. Please.
- The second suggestion is that homeowners could make a weekly sweep of the front of their property. No, this isn’t fair. We shouldn’t have to pick up other people’s garbage. But put gloves on and just scoop it up. Maybe if the roadside was always neat, people would think twice about throwing their stuff out of the window. Maybe.
- The third is the town could arrange more cleanups. Ask for volunteers. Make it an event. I’d be happy to assist, and I’m sure other people would too.
- Number four. What about fines? Post signs all along our roads that if caught, there is a $500 fine for littering. The problem of course would be catching and prosecuting anyone, but perhaps the threat would be helpful. Perhaps.
I don’t really have the answer, but what I do know is that throwing garbage anywhere except a garbage can or dumpster is simply not acceptable. It’s dangerous, unseemly, and simply unnecessary.
So besides taking care of my small piece of the world, I can only ask those of you who dump your stuff out the car window –