At Keep Liberty Beautiful, we are all about trash this month. Trash pickup, that is.
Litter is misplaced trash — and that is a nice way of saying it. I really don’t like to think about the people who litter on purpose. Shame on them; they are killing our planet.
Our constant need for convenience is also nailing shut the coffin of a healthy environment. Litter is a nasty side effect of our convenience-oriented disposable culture. We like fast food, disposable containers, throw away sacks and utensils and plastic shopping bags. All of these things and so much more make our lives so much easier, we think.
I think we have gotten lazy, America.
When I was growing up, we mostly ate at home. There were few, if any, fast-food restaurants. I actually remember as a teenager when they opened a Burger Chef in Dublin. I had just earned my driver’s license, and I got lost driving across town to go there. The idea of a place that you could drive-thru and get food was a novelty back then. The idea that you would not sit down for dinner with your family for a home-cooked meal each night also was almost unheard of. If we went out to a ball game or the beach or took a trip, we packed homemade sandwiches and cookies and took a thermos of tea. We did not whip into KFC or some other establishment and grab food in disposable containers.
Yes, I seem to be dreaming of the good old days, but there is a reason. You see, every time we have a cleanup, we see the spoils of our laziness and our desperate need for a fast, easy lifestyle. That need for disposability and convenience ends up on the ground far too often. You see, back in the “old days,” we did not generate this overwhelming amount of convenience litter. The items that end up as litter most often are cigarette butts (if you smoke, is it that hard to dispose of cigarette trash the right way?), straws, plastic forks and spoons, fast-food bags and containers, aluminum cans (Bud Light drinkers particularly seem to litter the most) and water bottles. Let me make this clear: Fast-food places and convenience stores are not to blame for this litter. Those of us who buy these items and, through our carelessness or laziness, let them become litter are to blame.
I understand what it is like when everyone is rushing in different directions every day. I raised two kids and will be the first to say that we used every convenience we could to survive, but our trash did not end up on the ground or get tossed out of our car or blown out of the back of our truck. We disposed of that trash appropriately. So all I am asking is that if you need those conveniences then do the same.
Just think about these facts, which I hope will make you want to prevent litter:
• According to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, 7 billion tons of debris end up in our oceans, with much of it in the form of long-lasting plastic. Just thinking about these “plastic islands” that are developing sends chills up my spine.
• “Sea of Debris” by Jeannie Faris and Kathy Hart states that an estimated 100,000 sea mammals and turtles are killed annually by plastic litter every year. They either mistake it for food or get tangled up in it.
• According to “Greeniology 2020: Greener Living Today and in the Future” by Tanya Ha, a sperm whale found dead on a North American beach starved to death after a plastic gallon bottle that it swallowed had plugged its small intestine.
So sad and unnecessary. Surely, our planet and its inhabitants should not have to pay such a price for our need for convenience.
For information about upcoming community cleanups, call Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.