NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION YOU CAN KEEP
I stopped alongside a country road to pick something up. Not a snake,
turtle or frog. Nothing fun like that. Instead, I captured an empty
sack of dog food, a paper cup and a beer can. Doing so reminded me that
the time to make New Years resolutions is once again upon us.
up other peoples litter is a worthwhile exercise and an excellent
environmental resolution. It only takes a few minutes to clear away
unsightliness from a selected area.
dotted with discarded trash do not enhance the appeal of forest and
wetland habitats for travelers. When litter is blown into a field, stream
or woods, the eyesore spreads. One upside of a resolution to pick up
litter for a stretch of highway (a hundred feet? a quarter mile?) is
the ease with which it can be accomplished. Just pull off the road and
start picking up trash. Most people feel pretty good about themselves
when they have performed a community service.
want to take the roadside litter resolution to another level, plan to
commandeer others to help you clean up unsightly roadsides in your area.
You may even want to arrange for a group you are associated with to
adopt a section of road. Many service organizations, garden clubs and
scout troops are involved in community projects, and some focus on roadside
cleanup. The immediate payoff for such an effort is a stretch of unlittered
road at least for a little while. A longterm benefit is that
those who participate are quickly converted to the position that we
should not use our roadsides as trash dumps.
of the war against roadside litter is to encourage someone who does
not regularly recycle to do so. Your initial goal might be to get them
to take a handful of newspapers or a sackful of bottles or aluminum
cans to a recycling bin one time. This may seem like an insignificant
matter if you regularly recycle, but getting people to change their
habits is not an easy task. If you are successful in spawning a recycler,
you will deserve any praise you get. And maybe one less bottle will
end up littering our highways and byways.
up roadside litter is personally gratifying. It can also remind us of
the kind of person we do not want to be. While I picked up the bits
of litter I had discovered, I reflected on why people throw trash from
their vehicles, sometimes even in front of someones house. Does
this reflect how a person feels about their station in life? Is littering
an act of rebellion against society prompted by a sense of insecurity
or inadequacy? Or is it just the opposite? Is the person arrogant? Do
they think theyre exempt from the rules of conduct that call for
decency toward others? One things for sure, these are not people
who care much for our natural habitats and how they look.
considered whether we need more forceful ways to curtail what I consider
abominable behavior but decided additional laws are not the answer.
Dedicated road litterers surely know not to toss out a beer bottle when
a highway patrol car is behind them. Furthermore, fines for littering
are trivial. Environmental education that leads to a change in attitudes
is the only effective longterm solution.
rule when picking up roadside litter: Do it safely! When you stop to
observe some interesting animal crossing a road, you must always watch
out for other drivers; likewise when removing roadside trash. Anyone
who would throw a beer can out the window cannot be trusted to be a
cautious and responsible driver.
to help reduce roadside litter is a New Years resolution anyone
can keep. So save yourself the cost of a gym membership that youll
let lapse in February. Become a roadside litter warrior instead.
you have an environmental question or comment, email