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We are getting sick and tired of seeing our beautiful roads and highways used as trash depositories for the lazy and inconsiderate.
Yes, we are talking to you, those of you who find it appropriate to roll down your windows – though on these days of triple-digit highs, we would think you wouldn’t – and give a heave-ho to the refuse of your lunch, dinner, breakfast and the beers you illegally consume while driving.
Yes, you know who you are. What you do is detestable.
Littering long has been a problem in America, with streams and valleys clogged by junk people didn’t want and don’t want to dispose correctly. How many times have you seen it?
Just recently we counted 15 bags of trash along U.S. 60 that county inmates had collected. In a few months, there likely will be 15 more of them.
Do you see a trend? Why does this happen?
Perhaps you recall the public-service TV commercial of the tearful Native American looking at the junked up beauty of his homeland. It was poignant and pointed, and maybe it needs to be resurrected.
We thought that littering had been wiped out about the time of polio, but we are seeing far too much evidence that it has re-emerged as a blight on Shelby County.
In the 1960s, when littering laws first went became prominent, Americans – largely motivated by a conscientiousness developed through their children – started to clean up their deplorable habit of tossing garbage out wherever they wanted.
Little rubber litterbags went into vehicles, and 50-gallon garbage cans were sprinkled along federal highways – with signs alerting motorists to their presence – to provide opportunity, at least, for carrying home garbage or stopping to dump it in a place other than a creek bottom.
Signs along roads continue to promote littering as a crime punishable by a significant fine. But how many times have you seen littering show up in a police or court report? Law enforcement officers simply don’t have time for that stuff any more than does the driver.
Civic organizations and school groups donate countless hours to clean up roads – which is appreciated greatly – and your dumping also does provide jail inmates something to do out in the sunshine. But that’s a small benefit.
Yet, here we are, begging, asking you to do the right thing, to teach your children to do the right thing, to help each other do the right thing.
When you have finished your burger or your milk shake, just carry the cups and boxes with you until you get to a garbage can. Don’t toss your soft-drink or hard-drink bottles out the window. For crying out loud, don’t drink beer and drive ever.
You may not care about the beauty of the county, but you should care about this: The garbage you leave behind can interfere with the habitat of wildlife, it can cause hazards for residents and road workers who clean and maintain those areas and it can, in some cases, draw vermin and create odors that can be a blight for all of us.
We don’t need that. We’re tired of seeing that.
So, please, take your trash and dump it.