Monday, October 22, 2012

Come On, Let's Litter!

Last year the commonwealth of Virginia spent over 11 million dollars picking up trash along the roadways. Now that's important because in this time of great stimulus spending to create jobs, picking up trash is always, "shovel ready." So folks tossing out empty burger bags, soda cans, water bottles, beer cans, liquor bottles too, are just doing their part to "stimulate" the economy. And that's a good thing, right?

Ravishin' Robbie and I do the "Adopt The Road" thing here in VA, along the dirt road we live on, and 4 times a year we pick up along a 2 mile stretch from our house to the stop sign. Now you must understand this little dirt road has a traffic count of less than 40 cars a day, most days under 20, so the folks that travel this road must be highly aware of the need to, "stimulate, " because by golly we never get less than 8 or 9 bags of trash and half a dozen tires. Mostly though it's beer cans and wine and liquor bottles. I'd say beer cans and bottles run about 10 to one with anything else.

And that could be a good thing because all of us know how a shiny reflecting beer can on the shoulder of a dark road can serve as a great reflector to keep you out of the ditch. So that drinking and driving thing might have some helpful side benefits like road marking ... The fact that it's estimated that every 30-minutes, someone in the United States is killed in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident, and about every minute one person is injured in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident is just an inconvenient statistic ... because those shiny beer cans make reliable road guides on a dark night, and the folks who toss them out are simply doing their part to make our roads safe.

What about the ecology of it all? How about all those tires pitched into the woods instead of being disposed of properly? Free at our county landfill. Without the thoughtless actions of some folks, where would all those precious mosquitoes breed? Those discarded tires and dear mindless souls are only doing their part to help nature.

And what about the landfills? Remember not too long ago everyone was clambering about the landfills all getting full. The panic that filled so many news broadcasts about too much trash and no way to get rid of it ... Did so many caring motorists decide to do their part to ease the pressure on the landfills by making use of the hany hundreds of thousands of miles of roadside as trash receptacles? ... You know, toss a burger bag here, a beer bottle there, it can really add up to millions of tons not going to the overburdened landfills ... Yes that must be it, litterbugs are really just ecology minded stewards of the earth. Got it!

Yes, I write this tongue in cheek, but friends there really is not too much funny about the total lack of respect for our beautiful world that allows for the increase in trash tossed out motorists windows. And, I will confess to being a lifelong teetotaler, but it is appalling to me that so many folks think nothing of drinking while driving. While at VDOT the other day to get supplies to do our road thing our local administrator told me, just 5 years ago the cost was 7 million a year to pick up trash, and that does not include all the thousands of volunteer hours. He also confirmed the terrifying volume along all roads of beer and other alcoholic containers in the roadside trash. That's just sad.


  1. Love this and you're spot on!
    I live in TN and we pay a ton of money to pick up trash and then Bush hog and waste all that nice green grass when there's folks out west with starving livestock. I wish the states here in the east would bale it instead.

  2. My biggest pet peeve is litter along the road ways. Here they make the inmates pick up trash -right good job for em' too! I want to throw a rock through people's window when I see them toss trash!
    Our county Farm Bureau used to do a 2 mile stretch and we would have 2 sometimes 3 p/u truck loads of trash, tires, mattress' and yes we would have 2 or more bags of aluminum beeer & pop cans to recycle.
    It comes down to a total lack of respect of self and others. We are breeding a society of people who feel entitled to any and everything and who have never had to face repercussions for their actions.
    I remember growing up a seeing the Do Not Litter sign and being scared to throw out an apple core. Why? Because my parents taught me respect, to obey laws/rules and YES there were repercussions if these things were not followed. I have met my fate with the hickory stick more than I would like remember, but the lessons it taught have been long remembered.
    Thanks for the great article Dutch and reminding us this great land is ours to care for and that we should be better stewards for her!
    Just thinking 7 million 5 years ago at a lets say 2% increase would be $7,140,000.00 today (just guesstimating here for a point) multiplied by 50 states would be $357,000,000.00 that's a bunch of money!!! :(

  3. We have the same problem in our rural area. There is a stretch of 2 lane hgwy that leads to a small gravel rd. that goes down to a boat ramp in the river. Along this 5 mile stretch of rd. There are countless beer cans and bottles. When riding my horse along this stretch of rd. I have to be watchfull that my horse doesn`t step on a bottle and cut his foot. Sometimes I go along this rd. with my 4 wheeler and pick up this stuff. I`m no ones house keeper but my own.

  4. Thank you all for your comments. I just had to write about this after picking up trash on our road ... Always the same thing every time. I have a hard time understanding the lack of respect ...

  5. I take a grocery bag with me once a week on my two-mile walk through the hills of my neighborhood. I fill it, mostly with paper and plastic cups and food wrappers from Bojangles, McDonald's and Wendy's. Why these over Dutch's beer cans? Because people around here throw junk in the back of their pickups. And when they drive, this junk blows out. I recycle, so whatever I pick up goes into one of the appropriate bins. At least this junk doesn't go into the lake where I live...