Over the last couple of years, as the weather started to get warmer and the official end of winter was right around the corner, I have noticed how much garbage was just lying around. You might not see it when you are driving along the roads in an automobile, but if you go for a walk or ride a bike around town, you will begin to notice it nearly everywhere. It is an epidemic that has gotten out of hand and it is up to everyone to try to make it go away.
Over the last few weeks I have tried to get out and get some exercise on some of the nicer days that we have had lately and the litter is starting to get to me. Just walking a few miles from my house I see piles and piles of garbage strewn about. The route I take even has several garbage cans spaced sporadically along the sidewalk, but that doesn’t seem to matter to most people. The garbage cans remain barely used while garbage lines the streets, gutters and sidewalks.
Earlier this week I determined that this problem wasn’t about to go away on its own. If the problem was ever going to get better something had to be done, and it had to start now. I put on some latex gloves, grabbed a garbage bag, and just started walking.
I knew that I wouldn’t have to go very far having already surveyed the landscape over the last several weeks. I didn’t even have to leave my quiet suburban neighborhood before I had a trash bag full of debris that people had just tossed to the ground so that someone else would have to pick up. I only was out for around 30 minutes and traveled less than a quarter of a mile and had already accumulated 17 pounds of garbage.
The route I took was from the corner of Twin Oaks Drive and Roanoke Avenue and traveling south toward Ormond Road. I then turn left on Ormond and traveled toward Charlestown Road, although I didn’t get very far before the garbage bag I was using was bursting at the seams. I ended up near the back entrance of Fairmont Elementary School.
When I got home I decided to evaluate the trash that I picked up so maybe I could better understand why it was where it was. I sorted it between actual garbage and things that could be recycled. Overall the majority of the items that I found were able to be recycled and would not have to end up in the Clark-Floyd Landfill.
The recyclable items that I picked up included 21 plastic bottles, 11 glass bottles and five aluminum cans. Among items that I found that are garbage were 27 soda cups from local fast food establishments or convenience stores. I found cups from Frisch’s, Rally’s and Taco Bell as well as a couple Polar Pop cups from the Circle-K.
One cause for concern, besides all of this garbage that I had found, was that many of these containers that were disposed were alcoholic beverages. I discovered four Bud Light cans and two bottles. I also found six small bottles of Beam’s Kentucky Whiskey and three mini vodka bottles. I also found full size bottles of vodka and gin. One of the disturbing things is these were not just in a single pile along the road, they were clearly thrown from cars driving down the street, which happens to be adjacent to an elementary school.
Last fall I attended my son’s wedding in Layton, Utah, a town in metropolitan Salt Lake City. One of the first things I noticed as I traveled through town was the lack of litter all over the ground there. What is different between that community and our own? What will it take to keep people from throwing trash from their cars as they drive down the road in New Albany?
One person cannot put a dent in the problem and it will not go away overnight. I spent half an hour picking up garbage two blocks from my house and found more than 17 pounds of garbage. What if everybody spent just a little time each week cleaning up after others?
I decided to ask a like minded friend if she would give me a hand this weekend and spend about an hour picking up litter. Saturday morning we are getting our kids out of the house, putting on some rubber gloves and picking up garbage from our city’s streets. I think it will be a good experience, a great lesson and maybe we will get some pizza or ice cream when we are finished. If more people would take some time and do the same thing, before long we will notice a difference.
Over the next several weeks as we get closer to summer there will be a push to clean up our city. Local neighborhood groups always set aside a weekend when cleanup campaigns focus on a particular area of the city. These are great programs that do a lot of good but I think that residents need to do their part throughout the entire year and help cleanup this town.
— Matthew Nash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org