Thursday, October 22, 2009

One Man's Trash Is . . . Still Trash

Nothing ruins a good walk like globs of trash littering the sides of the road. After muttering curses for a while against the people who use the scenery as their wastebasket, I finally realized that I could pick up the trash and then I wouldn't have to look at it. The next time I set out, I carried a kitchen trash bag and a pair of gloves. Before I had gone half-way up the hill, I had filled the bag and could barely carry it. (That was when I learned to start collecting trash on the way down the hill.) It was a Sunday afternoon and several people drove by, but no one acknowledged my lonely quest for tidiness. Maybe some of them said to themselves, "Look at that poor lady cleaning the roadside. I swear I will never toss another beer can out the window."

I did have plenty of time to make some observations about litterers:
In my neighborhood, at least, Busch is the beer of choice to swig in the car and toss out the window.
Malboros are a favorite of litterers.
Cigarette filters are not biodegradable. Couldn't we get them to put that on the packages? Would anybody care?
Construction workers seem to lose a lot of equipment along the road. I found a level, a box of screws, and some siding.
I couldn't understand the reasoning of people who toss out soiled disposable diapers. Then I looked up "disposable" in the dictionary, and it became clear. "Disposable" means "designed to be thrown out." The diaper tossers are very, very literal.
The strangest object I found was a long green shoelace tied around the neck of a plastic alien. Maybe someone was taking the alien for a walk and it got away. I took the shoelace home to repair something, and the alien--well, it's pretty cute. I think I'll keep it.


  1. My friend and I decided to do a community service of our own and took trash bags (and wore gloves) to pick up litter around a lake. It was funny how people reacted. Some shot us looks as if we were homeless or looney. One lady brought us an aluminum can, assuming we were recycling. But a fisherman gathered a little pile of litter and put it in our bags when we got to his spot. And he thanked us. That made it feel very worthwhile. I also recalled an elderly lady years ago who used to sweep the sidewalk and street in front of her house. She had been taught to be responsible for the cleanliness of her neighborhood, not just her yard. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Loved this comment: The diaper tossers are very, very literal.

    And I love your little survey of the trash you found. I am sometimes to be found in the ditch along the road I often walk along, filling a bag with trash and muttering things that are not fit to be expressed in a public forum.