Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wake County's anti-litter battle; Where's Meck's?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 4, 2011 at 10:30 AM

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There's an op-ed in the News & Observer about litter in Wake County that can be summed up like this: Pick up your damn trash and any other trash you see.

Here's a snippet:

The Capital County's roadsides are notoriously filthy with the disposable crud of a careless society. And that's despite the best efforts of many well-intentioned volunteers to keep the place looking presentable.

Government gets in on the clean-up act as well, and many prisoners have turned in honest days' work picking up after their free but slovenly neighbors. Costs to the public can be considerable.

Read the entire piece here. It goes on to talk about how picking up litter is an everyone-problem. I agree.

Here's what I see happening around Mecklenburg County, however, as I hike on the area's trails: Smacked-ass youngins tossing candy wrappers over their shoulders (I shit you not), fishermen leaving bait containers and empty plastic bread bags along the shores of our lakes and river, snack trash mere feet from trash cans, people throwing cigarette butts any- and everywhere, trash collectors' trucks spewing trash all over my 'hood on trash day and people walking past the trash on the ground like they can't see it.

Because of all of these things, I rarely return from a walk or a hike without pockets and even bags full of trash. In fact, a couple weeks ago, a friend and I returned from a hike with three bags full of trash ... and we didn't even come close to picking up all that we saw.

Now, I'm not bringing up my trashy pet peeve to diminish the work of groups like Keep Charlotte Beautiful or the North Carolina Big Sweep program. They and their volunteers do a great job, but they can only do so much.

Between their clean up days, you and I need to do our part by picking up the trash we see — whether it's in our neighborhood or not. If each and every one of us simply picked up the trash we pass on the ground each day, the nonprofit anti-litter programs would have to shutter their doors (which would please them to no end).

Check out this video, called "The Nature of Waste." It talks about how we're not informed about our trashy ways and that, maybe, if we were we'd change them. Well, let's get informed. Find out what happens to your trash after it leaves your house by making a few phone calls to your trash collector. Then, create less trash by recycling and composting as much as possible.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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