Apparently I’m not the only one noticing. There was a post on my face book page recently of an Amish man and his children picking up trash along a road, likely the one they lived on. He was asked why he and the children were filling their wheelbarrow with all this variety of trash and he replied, “It gives the children something to do and teaches them civic responsibility.”
Many people don’t give “civic responsibility” a second thought as the open their car window and toss out those pieces of garbage they no longer want in their vehicle! Admittedly, the big trash trucks collecting or carrying large amounts of garbage, are also culprits of dispersing trash where it doesn’t belong. They seem oblivious to all the pieces they are hurling in the air as it flies out of their partially covered trucks while they speed down the road.
I remember years ago a commercial on television of a river bank being polluted with litter. What made it memorable, however wasn’t the trash so much as the face of the Native American looking at the refuse and crying. That image has never left my mind and caused the impact of the bad behavior of littering, profoundly despicable.
There are those who choose to throw out a banana peel or apple core assuming because it is biodegradable or organic, it’s not littering. The problem with this logic is the peel or core does not belong in someone else's yard, or along side the road. It is a catalyst for more litter, attracts bugs and other hungry critters, not to mention since decomposition can take a while, the discarded food remains, can generate an odor that is less than appealing!1
While this alone is alarming, when we consider the length of time non-food items take to decompose, it’s downright distressing, if you care at all about our Earth and the landscape before our eyes. Cigarette butts take from ten to twelve years to decompose, aluminum cans two hundred to two hundred fifty years, leather shoes twenty-five to forty years, disposable diapers five hundred fifty years and Styrofoam and Tinfoil isn’t biodegradable at all! There are other items from paper tickets to monofilament fishing line that can take anywhere from two weeks to six hundred years to decompose.2 That's a really long time to wait for something to go away on it's own!
So I challenge you to think before you toss your trash out the window or allow your trash can to overrun with garbage. Our landscape is only as beautiful as we choose it to be. If we neglect to care for it we invite not only an ugly setting, but the potential for bacteria to grow, invite unwelcome critters nearer to our homes and create an environment completely unhealthy.
Remember if we all toss just one piece of paper or other trash out a day on the road, sidewalk, ditch, etc,, the results are frightening. On the other hand, if we all choose to place our trash where it belongs, this place we live and call home, can remain free of litter, be healthy and beautiful!