Where we live: America the ‘not so’ beautiful
By RON GOWER
A few days ago while driving down Route 54 in Hauto, we noticed two big-screen TVs tossed in the lush, green grass along the highway. They were clearly visible from the road, apparently just tossed off a pickup or from a van. No homes were around them. It apparently was from a place not of convenience, but laziness.
When I got home, I discovered a pile of dog poop on the lawn in front of my home. It’s not the first time. Most likely you’ve probably had the same situation and have had to clean up after someone else’s dog.
Travel along any highway and you’ll find fast food wrappers, beverage bottles and other litter. Hardly anyone who smokes uses the car ashtray anymore; the cigarettes are just flicked out the window.
Once at a Little League Baseball game, where the parking area was against woodlands, some members of the visiting team tossed their litter right into the woods. We approached them and the coach said they were just celebrating because they won. Fortunately they did pick up their debris.
The song “America the Beautiful” is hardly appropriate anymore the way so many people seem so uncaring. I’ve seen people in store parking lots drop disposable diapers on the macadam. People even leave trash in shopping carts sometimes.
Years ago, Lady Bird Johnson inaugurated a “Make America Beautiful” campaign. Some years later Earth Day was started, which again raised awareness to the ugliness of litter.
Today, litter has become a major issue. From the shoulders of country roadways to the tranquil escapes in our beautiful woodlands you’ll find litter. Not just tossed paper cups and French fry wrappers but car tires, appliances, electronics and discarded furniture.
I do blame political leaders for some of the problem. It has become difficult to dispose of some trash. Your garbage man won’t take old TVs, refrigerators or even computer screens unless there’s an electronics pickup. Some people don’t have the facilities to store such items or the means to take them to a transfer station.
Then there are the crazy limitations placed on how much trash can be put at curbside. For example, one local town has a limit of one can per week. It’s pretty difficult for a family of four to have only one can of trash in seven days in today’s society. Everything has not only regular wrapping but safety wraps and freshness packaging.
Even recycling is being phased out. Haulers tell us it is more costly to recycle items than it is to toss them into a landfill. Many people want to recycle as if it is a patriotic chore, but in reality many of the items your trash collector is picking up in your recycle bin is merely taken to the dump. Unless recycled items become more financially lucrative, there won’t be much demand for them.
The bottom line is that people have become spoiled, lazy and unconcerned.
There are littering laws, but an individual has to be pretty stupid to toss garbage from a car window in front of a police officer.
It’s not only the trash strewn along the highways that is irritating.
People walking their pets let them go to the bathroom anywhere on anyone’s property without cleanup. I’ve seen dog dirt on my front pavements. There are some responsible pet owners who have cleanup bags with them, but too many of them don’t. There are ordinances in most towns regarding pet waste, but, again, it’s difficult catching the offenders. Police officers generally won’t wait to see if the owner picks up after an animal that’s dropping its waste.
In Summit Hill, the borough installed doggie stations complete with disposable bags for animal waste. A borough employee said there have been individuals who let their dogs go to the bathroom next to these doggie stations without cleaning them up.
It’s not unusual to step in doggie doo even in borough parks or on playgrounds.
We took a trip to Scotland a few years ago and stayed at a home in the countryside. I usually got up in the morning and took a walk along the rural roads, enjoying the sheep and horses. What was neat was there was no litter along those roadways. Even in the towns, people showed pride and litter was virtually nonexistent.
We need another “make America beautiful” campaign, much like Lady Bird Johnson employed, in today’s society. Right now, whether in our state parks, at national monuments, on back roads or along city streets, America is not so beautiful because of the litter problem.