Why is it that people still feel that it’s acceptable to throw their trash out the window while driving?
Do they think that there is a Trash Fairy?
Are they expecting a cute, little being with sparkly wings to fly behind their car and scoop up their cigarette butts, soda cans, Starbucks containers, MacDonald’s boxes, Dunkin Donuts wrappers, Twisted Tea cans, Bud Lite cans, diapers, etcetera, etcetera?
What I find especially vexing is that most of the people who daily commit the crime (YES, it actually IS a crime!) of littering, wouldn’t think of tossing their unused medications out their car windows. So, they obviously have some kind of a this-is-right versus this-is-wrong moral compass. Right?
This is more than an ecological problem. Just in the U.S. alone the cost of this in your face attitude costs OVER $119,000,000,000.00 A YEAR! I’ll repeat myself, that’s over One Hundred, Nineteen BILLION Dollars a year. And that’s only for the trash that’s actually collected. Imagine how much it would cost for all of the uncollected debris and all of the refuse in our waters. And again, I’ll repeat that this figure only applies to the United States. Think of about all the programs that are being slashed or eliminated and this figure becomes staggering.
What’s the story?
Here it goes, and fair warning, it’s going to piss some people off. Over the years, I’ve developed a theory about who’s doing this. I think they fall into two categories. See if you agree.
One, is the I’m entitled crowd. This applies to all cigarette smokers who toss their butts out the window, instead of using an ashtray. Why am I singling out smokers? Because cigarette butts comprise at least 38 percent of roadside waste!
Smokers who are guilty of this think they’re special, and the rules about littering don’t apply to them. I can do whatever the hell I want. If I want to throw my cigarette of the window, who the fuck are you to judge me?! Since I’m so important it doesn’t matter if I trash the environment. Why should my car smell like an ashtray? What do I care if it takes a decade or more for the filters to disintegrate? So what if they are polluting our natural environment and making birds, bees, animals and marine life sick? I’m IMPORTANT! You hear me?!!!
Yeah, right. Right?
The other is the dumb and dumber crowd. Sorry, but there is a definite educational and class distinction here. It’s a fact. Most of the trash picked up isn’t bearing labels from Whole Foods, Amy’s Organics, Newman’s Own, etc. The bulk of it is junk food, soda and beer cans, along with the nefarious cigarette butts already mentioned. Based on the evidence, it’s obviously not being consumed by middle-to-upper class, educated people. No, it’s the people wolfing down fast food burgers and 7-Eleven Big Gulps. Their line of reasoning: I don’t believe the garbage those liberal scientist types are trying to brainwash us with. I mean, my family’s been throwing trash out our windows for generations. What’s the big deal? For crying out loud, what’s the difference between that and putting it in a landfill for Christ’s sake? Eventually, it will disappear. Won’t it????
Don’t you want to yell at them to wake up?!
My sister, known to some of you as Doctor Hopper has another theory. See what’s your take on it. She thinks there’s another group: the angry crowd. These are the people who are just plain pissed off at everything and everyone. Their reasoning follows along these lines: I am sick and tired of people telling me what to do! Where do you get off lecturing me about my trash! It’s my fucking trash and I’m going to throw it where I damn well please! If you don’t shut the fuck up, I’ll throw it on your goddamn lawn!!!
Actually, the angry crowd sounds a lot like the entitled crowd, doesn’t it? But, my sister insists they’re two separate groups. Big sisters ALWAYS rule. (Off screen sound of me clearing my throat. Ha, ha!)
Okay, offenders, let me clue you in…
Trash doesn’t magically disappear. There is no Trash Fairy, and if there were, I think she’d be pretty pissed off. However, we do have recycling programs and trash facilities.
If you smoke, why not use one of those portable, smokeless ashtrays? They even make ones you can pop in your pocket or purse. That way your car won’t stink and there will be the nice benefit of not possibly burning down a forest, or the neighbor’s house, or killing small animals/birds/fish that accidentally ingest them or mistake them for food. If you don’t believe me, check out “cigarette facts” in the links section below. The rest of us thank you in advance.
Image: ebay (Hint, hint.)
If you’re a fast food fanatic, why not put a small trash basket behind the passenger seat, where you can conveniently toss wrappers, KFC tubs, etc. instead of littering the land? Think of the land as community property. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to EVERYONE. Human and the animal and plant kingdoms. Be a responsible steward. Or, like they used to say: “Be a Do Bee, not a Don’t Bee!” (see the link below).
And here’s a sidebar for you to ponder. How do you expect food to grow if your trash is poisoning the bees that are necessary for its growth??
By the way, Einstein died in 1955. I don’t know when he said the above quote, but think about it…the world’s population has EXPLODED since that time. So, do the math, if it would have taken four years way back then, we are on borrowed time today. We need the littering public to clean up their act, before they destroy our beautiful planet!
If you’re angry, figure out what’s got you so pissed off and do something productive about it. Throwing trash out the car window is just plain stupid. It’s okay you’re angry, but it’s not okay to take it out on the environment. The forest hasn’t done anything to hurt you. That cat you just passed didn’t abuse you. The birds flying above aren’t responsible for your pain. It’s not fair that they are suffering because you’re not dealing with your trauma. GET HELP. Try Anger Management, for instance.
We must be the change that we want to see in the world. It starts with the little things. The seemingly insignificant things. Be a grown up. It’s time to think globally, not just locally. The crime of littering is a crime against the planet and ALL of its inhabitants, human and non-human alike.
You know what I wish? I wish they’d redo the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign that ran for a long time in the 1953-1979 (see the link below). I have a brilliant idea for an international campaign, and if I had camera and sound equipment, I’d do it myself. I’m planning on contacting a few filmmakers and corporations to see if they’d be interested in partnering on the project.
In the meantime, you can find me walking along side the road with a plastic bag picking up waste, which by the way, I’ve been doing almost my whole life. So, yes, I am entitled to bitch about it.
Hey. Don’t forget the gospel according to Paddy Chavefsky: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
I can’t hear you!!
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‘Keep America Beautiful” commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7OHG7tHrNM
“Give a hoot, don’t pollute!” commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZB7gSQRIuM
Romper Room “Do Bee” segment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtI1t_3wWLM
Cigarette litter facts: http://www.longwood.edu/cleanva/cigbuttimpacts.htm
More cigarette litter facts: http://www.preventcigarettelitter.org/why_it_matters/why_it_matters.html
Smoking accessories: http://www.talondepot.com/home.php?cat=280
Waste and recycling facts: http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html
Infographic re: waste: http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/infographic/index.htm
Facts from the National Waste & Recycling Association: http://www.environmentalistseveryday.org/solid-waste-management/environment-friendly-waste-disposal/litter-prevention.php
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