Monday, March 8, 2010

Solutions for Litter?

I've been following the environmental changes made by followers of Hip Mountain Mama's One Small Change. Many great bloggers have been using cloth napkins rather than paper, eating more vegetarian meals, composting, carrying reusable bottles instead of buying water in plastic, etc.

I haven't committed to anything specific over the months, but I have adopted many of those practices in my life already. Today I did something that fits with the program that I'll try to do as often as possible. It involves litter. Now picking up litter is not going to change the world, but litter itself is a visible symptom of our whole throw away culture. Not only do people who litter use bottles, cans and coffee cups that they could avoid using altogether, but they then disrespect the environment by disposing of these items improperly.

Here is the haul of stuff I picked up on my walk today. And I only picked stuff up on the way home from a local nature preserve. So this was only from one side of the roads I walked.

This wasn't all I saw, but the bag I was filling (that I found on the side of the road) was getting too heavy to carry. One thing that amazes me is the number of liquor bottles, especially the tiny ones I thought were only sold on airplanes. Are people drinking these while driving?

The lovely bottle below might make a nice vase. Odd, I'd always imagined sophisticated people drinking sake relaxing at low tables with quiet music, not slobs drinking it in a car then throwing the bottle out the car window.

This is not the first time I have picked up garbage as I walk. See here. I'm happy that I remove what I pick up, but the situation never improves. What can we do to stop littering? I've debated sending garbage or pictures of garbage to companies like McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts and the soda and beer companies, but they would blame the people who litter, rather than take any responsibility for the mounds of trash their products create.

Once, in my old neighborhood, I watched a teenager pull to the side of our dead end street and empty a large pile of garbage from her car onto the road. When she turned around to leave, I confronted her and told her to pick it up. She denied it was even hers. I ended up getting quite angry and dumping a half filled coffee cup she had left at the side of the road into her sunroof. It was not my finest moment, and I'm probably lucky I didn't get run over. I feel passionate about this issue and don't know how to move beyond simply picking up the never ending supply of trash. Please leave any suggestions in a comment.


Michelle said...

I hate litter too! I once had a similar experience with confronting someone that I watched eat a fast food meal, exit her car, then throw it into the woods near where she was parked. It was frustrating & I don't think stopped her from littering in the future.

One thing that really helps with certain types of litter is a bottle bill - do you have one in your state? A deposit is required for purchasing glass, can or plastic drink containers & that deposit is returned to you when you return the empty bottle. If a bottle bill isn't in effect in your state, perhaps you could help to initiate a bottle bill?

Start some neighborhood/highway clean-ups using volunteer groups and education are the only other things I can think of to help. I look forward to seeing what ideas you come up with.

Good luck.


Andrea said...

We do have a bottle bill. 5 cents on clean cans and bottles. (I actually return the undented cans and bottles I find.) There is no deposit on water bottles or coffee cups. But perhaps if Dunkin Donuts gave 10 cents off a next purchase for a returned cup... But I believe you can save money if you use their refillable cup already. Perhaps I'll send a suggestion to Dunkin Donuts corporation. Their cups are very popular in the local trash.

Andrea said...

My daughter's girl scout troop is doing a clean up for Earth day.