Naturally: Take an extra step to combat litter 

What goes through the minds of people who casually toss waste?

I must live a perfect distance from a couple of fast food restaurants. Enough distance for people to eat their hamburger, drink their coffee, and throw the packaging out the window onto my property. What gives with this? What do they think happens to their junk? Do they care?

Litter is a pet peeve of mine. I just don’t get what goes through the minds of people who calmly open their car windows and toss.

I remember watching a local news item a few months ago where the camera caught a guy who was parked at the beach eating his lunch. When he finished he calmly rolled down his window and dumped all the greasy packaging, the brown bag, etc. on the ground. The crowning touch was when he wiped his mouth with a napkin then tossed that! I wonder how he felt when he was featured on the evening news?

I live very close to a prime fishing river and every fall there are hundreds of fishers enjoying the bounty of fish. Why then do they leave a trail of tangled fishing line, rusty hooks for dogs to step on, bait containers and coffee cups soiling the riverbank? Wouldn’t it be in their best interest to make sure the spawning channels stayed as pristine as possible? I told you, I don’t get it.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about litter: Litter is waste disposed in the wrong place by unlawful human action (I couldn’t have said it better myself). They go on to say, "Litter has the potential to cause harm to human health, safety and welfare, it harms wildlife and causes negative environmental impact on Earth."

A more puzzling fact is most littering takes place less than five metres from a garbage can. Did you know the most common piece of litter is a cigarette butt, which takes 12 years to break down?

How about starting a new family tradition? Once a week get the kids motivated and pick up every piece of litter along your property line, and while you’re at it, find out who is disabled on your block and clean theirs too. Who knows, your neighbours might be inspired to join in and before you know it the whole block is a shining example of people who care.

On my street, which is about four kilometres long, one woman is out every day with her dog, slowly picking up garbage. Her name is Bonnie and she is a hero of mine. I stopped to chat with her one day about why she spends so much time picking up after others. She already has a full-time job but decided a few months ago she just couldn’t stand to see a truly magnificent part of the world blighted by litter.

So, Bonnie, rain or shine, leashes her dog and cleans a section of road.

I think if Bonnie can dedicate a large part of her life to cleaning up after us we can surely walk that extra five metres to a garbage can, don’t you?

– maggiec@black.ca

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