Monday, February 15, 2016

How Can You Do This?

It never ceases to amaze me how much litter I find on my walks, whether they be in cities, or on remote nature trails.  I am almost compulsive about picking it up.  My sisters and I spend Christmas on the Southern California beach and we never fail to carry a trash bag.  Granted, much of the beach trash washes up with the tide, but not all.  One year, we filled a 30-gallon trash bag to overflowing, and then started another one, just in a little over a mile of beach.  People would say 'thank you' to us, and yet I wondered what kept them from doing the same, even on a small scale.

When I'm home, my regular walk is a 3-mile loop around the neighborhood, which is urban/suburban, houses on somewhat large properties of 1 acre or more with mostly natural desert vegetation. Most of the neighbors love the desert and take great pride in the neighborhood.  We love the fact that we are 15 minutes from downtown, but feel a world away, a place where coyotes, bobcats, javelina, snakes, rabbits, and a great variety of birds are our regular visitors and neighbors. Saguaros, barrel cactus, palo verdes, acacia, cholla and brittlebush dominate the desert vegetation. And the Santa Catalina Mountains loom over it all.

You would think that by walking the same route every day, there would rarely be any trash to pick up.
 Not so.  In fact it's rare that I come home with nothing in the bag. Cigarette smokers are on top of the list as the biggest litterers.  Think those cigarette butts are not litter?  Think again.  They could take up to 12 years to biodegrade, meanwhile creating a hazard for unsuspecting wildlife thinking it is food.  Plastic bags, soda cups, straws, aluminum cans and all the miscellaneous detritus of modern human life.  Sometimes you can't help but wonder at the life of the litterer.  A while back, just about every day, I would find one, maybe even two, small liquor bottles - vodka or wine.  Were they drinking it on the way home? One the way to work? Hiding if from their spouse or kids? Would these little empties lie beside the road waiting to be picked up?  No.  I have many battle scars from palo verdes and cacti trying to prevent me from my mission.  Then one day, I stopped finding the bottles.  What transpired?  Hmmm.  My mind ran through the possibilities - maybe he got religion and sobered up, perhaps he got arrested for DUI, did he move away .  .  .  ??

Several years ago, our neighborhood association installed Mutt Mitts - plastic bag dispensers for picking up dog poop.  Still there are dog owners who don't think they should have to pick up after
their dog.  That's where I draw the line.  I won't pick up after someone else's dog.  Even worse, however, is the person who carefully picks up the droppings, puts them in a bag, ties the top and proceeds to leave the whole thing by the roadside!  Oh my.

With magnificent scenery all around, and the possibility of seeing wildlife, I truly love my walks.  But, I just can't help but think how much nicer they would be without the trash.

Dear litterer, how can you do this?

1 comment:

  1. We're always amazed at the amount of broken glass on the streets, the sidewalks and on the ground. Who throws a beer bottle out of a car? Who does that? We also see piles of whip-its which are the metal containers of nitrous oxide used to make whipped cream on the ground. Riding a bike in Tucson requires constant scanning for debris. Thank you for picking litter on your walks.


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