Over the weekend, a group of friends and neighbors picked up the trash in the ditches along our rural road. We do this in memory of our friend, Steve, who started taking care of our road years ago.
It's really very simple. Twice a year, we walk about 2 miles of road, both sides, and pick up all the trash we find. And we find a lot of trash. This time our finds included, 2 bras, 2 panties, a rotten bag of cauliflower, shingles, dozens of empty cat food cans, broken tail lights and other car parts, a water bottle stuffed with cigarette butts,a snake (did not pick him up!) and the usual aluminum cans, water bottles, and paper trash. We filled up about 24 orange trash bags and left them piled by the sign for the county road crew to pick up.
I remember hearing the term "litterbug" when I was quite young, maybe in the late 50's or early 60's, and my dad explained the concept to me. I thought it all made a lot of sense, not to throw your garbage out the window of your car, and that once everyone else heard about litterbugs, that they would all quit! Littering would be a thing of the past, stamped out forever!
Like I said, I was pretty young, and still believed that if people knew what the right thing was, they would do it! It seemed pretty obvious to me.
But all these years later, there is still trash on all the roads everywhere. In Illinois there are 139,000 miles of state, county, municipal and township roads, the 3rd largest road system in the nation. Only about 3400 miles are part of the Adopt-A-Highway program where groups and individuals take it upon themselves to clean up a couple of times a year. Those 3400 miles generate about 32,000 orange bags of trash yearly! Do the math and figure out how many bags 139,000 miles generate! (over 1.3 million bags!?!)
The cost of trash is mind-boggling. Illinois spend about $12.5 million per year on litter pickup, and heaven knows, we have better uses for our meager funds than picking up trash. Over 800 highway deaths per year are attributed to litter related accidents. 800 people die YEARLY because litterbugs have thrown garbage out of the window of their vehicles! And the trash on the road can last for centuries. Glass and tires never decompose.
Seventy-five percent of people admit that they litter at times. So the best way to solve the problem is one person at a time. Make a vow that you will NOT LITTER! Not once, not occasionally, not EVER!! And stick to it. Your grandchildren will thank you, their grandchildren will thank you. It's a very simple thing and could make our world a lot better for all.
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