Litterbugs trash Mother Earth just like those spammers litter the Internet (“Spammers Should Be Shot, October 11, 2013). So they’re next on my bad list. The thing is, however, litterbugs have been around way too long and have just gotten worse.
I don’t have any statistics to prove it, but I suspect litter multiplied with the growth of fast food joints. Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to call them restaurants. I mean, really? Real restaurants should be up in arms that fast food drive-ins denigrate the term. But I digress. Or do I? If fast food places aren’t part of the problem, then why is the majority of litter I have to pick up in my yard bags of fast-food leftovers and those lovely Styrofoam supersized cups from places that have carry-out lines and food in all kinds of throw-away containers? You know the ones. So is there a correlation between the mentality, sense of responsibility, initiative, and degree of laziness of people who buy their products? And yes, I have been known to frequent fast food joints, but I throw my trash away when I get home. Can we stalk the inconsiderate consumers, follow them as they pull out with their food and afterwards when they throw their trash out the window, gather it up, chase them down, and give it back to the them? Won’t happen, but it should.
Cigarette butts are also disgusting, and they never seem to decompose. They may be small, but they are nasty and make more of a mess than you might think. I really don’t appreciate finding them in my cactus bed by the road. And beer cans and bottles abound at our particular location.
Plastic bags have gotten worse, too, in spite of stores encouraging customers to use the recyclable bags they conveniently sell at their stores. It’s just that not enough people are wiling to use them. I unwind plastic bags every day off tree limbs, our wire fences, cactus spines, everywhere in the yard. I try to recycle plastic bags that I sometimes come home with in spite of myself, and do a fair job. But even with four cats and litter boxes to scoop and two dogs to police at bathroom stops, and as small trash bags themselves, it takes a while to use up all the bags that way.
Drunks littering makes sense; they are under the influence, after all, but that doesn’t cut them any slack. If they are afraid of getting caught with the goods, then they shouldn’t be drinking and driving in the first place. It’s called making responsible choices. In fact, that reminds me of one time where I actually was at the right place at the right time to put a stop to one littering incident. I was walking on my walk path one day and saw a car stop on the road that borders one side of the path. I watch this kid frantically pop the trunk, and proceed to unload several boxes of something in the ditch. No matter what the boxes held, it was a clear case of dumping., I raced up to the car before he could finish only to discover it was an underage former student unloading boxes of empty beer cans and bottles, no doubt trying to ditch the evidence of a party that I suspect shouldn’t have happened.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I yelled at him before he was able to make a get-away. “ You might as well dump that stuff in my front yard! I’ll walk by this every day and have to pick it up for you! There are dumpsters all over town, three right over there at the country club. Put it there. Shame on you! You know better than this. Don’t you do this again! I can’t believe you did this!”
So while I am standing there, hands on hips, blathering on in righteous indignation, with lightning speed and a red face, he throws all the boxes back in the trunk, apologizes profusely, and speeds away. I would like to think he never pulled a stunt like that again, and I don’t think this particular young man did. At least not in my yard. Like what happens when most kids do something questionable, it just seemed like a good idea at the time, and he wasn’t thinking about what might happen next.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. When litter is involved, it isn’t a pretty picture. I realize that the wind, especially our wind, can blow trash amazing distances and sometimes it really isn’t someone’s fault. But you and I both know that most of the time litter comes from inconsiderate people who don’t take littering seriously. And dirty diapers don’t find their way into the yard and street by accident, either.
So stop it! We are supposed to be stewards of the land. Litter is not responsible stewardship. Come on, people. Pick up after yourself. How hard can it be to wait till you get home to throw away your trash or finding a trash can provided by a business for you to use? And if you are tossing something to get rid of incriminating evidence, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your behavior in general.
Okay. End of lecture. I’ll put away the soapbox. For a while.