A trashy problem

Seven out of the 10 bits of litter we find on our pavements and roads are food related. And with all this trash to choose from, the pigeon, rat, fox and gull population has spiraled.
~Alan Woods

Terrible title, I know.

Sure, recycling’s great and all (usually). And we aren’t on a path to be buried in garbage WALL-E style just yet. But we still do have a garbage problem. Namely, litter…that garbage that doesn’t end up in a proper receptacle.

The joke here is that the people who are responsible can’t really do much about it except for pick it up when they see it. I’m not going to sit here and talk about reducing one’s consumption in order to minimize waste. Most of you reading this blog probably fall firmly into the camp of Responsible People Who Take Proper Care of Their Trash. Massive amounts of trash or very little, it probably all goes where it should.

But the people doing the littering just don’t fucking care and most of them never will. That’s the terrible, terrible truth. There’s really no way around it, except by actively punishing the act of littering, but that’s a bit Big Brotherish. There are laws against it, but I haven’t heard of a single person getting hit with a fine for littering. Granted, a while back TXDoT had a radio advertisement campaign in which they told people that you could get busted for any unsecured load (ie, trash) in the bed of a pickup. One could only hope they were actually busting people for that shit.

I don’t grok it, really. People so damn lazy that instead of walking twenty feet to the fucking garbage can, they threw their soda-bottle-cum-spit-cup into the back of my old pickup truck. The garbage can was, I shit you not, in plain sight and within about ten seconds walking distance of anyone capable of actually getting to the second floor of the parking garage where the truck was parked. Naturally, I was pissed, mostly because they were trashing my truck with one of the nastiest objects in existence. But you can’t tell me that anything’s going to change a mindset that foul.

And even the best plans of the most responsible people can go awry if the companies that cart away the waste are irresponsible themselves.

But for all the little info booklets I’ve seen about the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” well, they all seemed to be preaching to the choir. We’ve been indoctrinated since we were young about not littering and Don’t Mess with Texas and Spruce Up Colorado (lol punny), just like most of us were indoctrinated into the “Recycling is always good!” and “We’re killing the planet!” things. Yes, littering is bad. It’s ugly, it’s potentially harmful to wildlife and the immediate environment, and really kills your groove when you see part of a candy wrapper in the middle of an otherwise pleasant Mt. Rainier hike.

I’d suggest acting like a douchebag and calling people on it when you see them do it, but that’ll only make them litter more for spite.

I don’t have a solution. I don’t think there is one, really. Dicks are dicks and will likely always be dicks. The best any of us can do is merely bandage the wound by picking up after their ugly asses.

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3 Responses to “A trashy problem”

  1. Dirty diapers. I used to end up with them in the bed of my truck all the time. The beer cans I really don’t mind: they’re easy to take care of. But dirty fucking diapers.

    Apparently there are states where the littering problem is much reduced from what we see here in Our-God-Made-The-World-For-Us-To-Do-Whatever-The-Fuck-With-It-I-Want Texas. My parents have told of places they have driven where the road wasn’t lined with a smörgåsbord (my spell-check does diacriticals…neat!) of waste. I’ll have to get them to remind me where that was. Would be interesting to see how they handled it.

    I think we should reinstate the chain-gang roadside cleanups, personally.

  2. “but that’s a bit Big Brotherish.”

    I spent the first five years of my life, and regularly talk to relatives and acquaintances who’ve lived much longer than that, in a place where you take it for granted that you’ll run into a cop who WILL ticket you for littering. We’re all very conscientious about that sort of thing even here where littering will get you into less trouble than jaywalking.

    But then, in the place I’m talking about it’s also taken for granted that the police can stop anyone at any time and ask to see their ID,* so maybe it is a bit Big Brotherish. :/

    *And now that I think about it I suspect the rule, if it exists in any official form, came about as a response to fears of rampant illegal immigration from the neighbouring developing, less “freedom”-loving state…

  3. It must be a cultural thing. Places I have lived have been populated by humans, but not full of litter.

    More public garbage cans, higher fines, higher refunds on bottles/cans, don’t litter campaigns. It works but takes input.

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