The Dump called Planet Earth

Nearly every day Jim and I take our three dogs for a walk around the block, which equals about 2 miles. About ½ mile of the walk is along a “busy” road (busy in a rural location means about 1 car every couple minutes although we usually get 3 or 4 cars together and then none for about 3 to 5 minutes). Now I am a person who decided a long time ago that I could never be a waitress because the first time someone gave me a hard time and complained I would dump their food in their lap. But besides that, you have to clean up after people, and since I don’t even like to clean up after myself much less a stranger (no, I do not clean up after Jim, that is his job) I could never imagine being a waitress.


What, you may be asking, does this have to do with my daily walk? Well, it has everything to do with it. I enjoy the rural area we live in but I abhor the trash I find along the road, so much so that a couple of years ago,I decided that Jim and I needed to pick it up. I was sick of looking at it. And since we are the only ones who walk in our neighborhood, we are the only ones who see it. And I prefer to look at the trees, the rock walls, the streams along our walk and not the beer cans, bottles, and MacDonald’s bags that float in the streams or litter the roadway.


But it got me to wondering, what is it that possesses a person to, when finished with their MacDonald’s meal, open the window, take their empty Giant Gulp cup complete with lid and straw, Big Mac box, apple pie container, and bag that they all came in and drop them out the window to land along our road? I’ll tell you one thing I know for sure, they aren’t doing it in their neighborhood. I’m sure they wouldn’t want to look at it. I’ll bet you they would even find it disgusting if someone else’s trash landed in their driveway. But how is it that these people (or disgusting humans as I call them since saying they are pigs or animals I find offensive to animals) do not see the harm they are doing to our planet. Do they feel, since it is “our” planet that they have the right to do with it as they wish? Do they not understand that it is one planet, one earth, one world and we all suffer the consequences of their selfish gesture?


I’m also pretty certain that back seats come standard in most vehicles. So, why not just throw the trash into the back seat and remove it when they get home? I’ve known people who have a back seat full of trash and when you first see this you think, oh my, how can they have this much trash in their car, and you notice a slight rancid odor and decide you’ll take your car instead of riding with them. But at least they are respecting the earth, if not their own space. Then once a year or so, they clean out their car. Disgusting, you say? I consider them considerate and conscientious.


I guess I can understand people throwing out beer bottles. Who wants to get stopped with empty beer bottles in the car? But isn’t that a comforting thought, people driving along the same road you are driving on, drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages. It’s bad enough that people get behind the wheel when they have left a bar filled to the gills. But to also know that they are driving and drinking is an even scarier thought.  Yes, they should be arrested and/or have their license revoked for drinking and driving, first offense, no second chances (especially if they have failed the sobriety test). Every drunk off the road could save your life.


Now when I was a kid, we returned bottles and we got money. That was great! This was often how I got my spending money – go collect soda bottles if you want some money. A working class family, cash wasn’t just lying around for our spending pleasure. We had to earn it and for a kid under 16 that often meant spending hours looking for empty bottles that people threw out. But I’ll tell you, the roads were much cleaner than they are now. And I can’t tell you how many broken bottles I’ve found with pieces of glass that could cut not only my small dogs’ feet but any other wild animal that lives in my neighborhood and walks the same roads we walk. I say, bring back the bottle bill (and yes, it does exist in a few forward thinking states.) There will still be people who litter, but at least those people who pick up the trash will make a little money doing it!


I recently read a terrific O Henry cartoon that demonstrated perfectly what I’m talking about: O Henry goes to a beautiful spot to paint. While he is painting, a family comes along and sits down to picnic. They proceed to litter the scenic area and then leave. O Henry finishes his painting and brings it to the home of the people who littered the scenic spot. The painting is just how they left it with all the trash. They look at it and say, “Who would want to buy such an ugly scene?” Exactly! Not in their backyard.


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