Fort Collins Conservation District

Ron Neher

Littering — Not the American Way

By: Ron Neher, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Retired

I was in a department store recently and noticed a shirt with a label which read that the shirt was made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles. Imagine that! Technology at its finest! Not that cotton has been completely replaced, but a water bottle is being used again instead of tossed alongside a county road, - or anywhere else for that matter, - for all to see its ugly litter character.

There are a few things which really irritate me which, in turn, are no big deal to others. Litter! I probably see much more than the average person who travels from here to there in a car. Prior to my retirement, I rode my bike 100-plus miles per week to and from work and other places. I can assure you that litter is much more visible and prominent looking over a set of handle-bars than through a windshield doing normal traffic speeds.

When I was in the US Navy, I was privileged to receive some all expense paid trips to a number of third world countries. One thing I remember about those places was the filth and trash in many of the areas. It was everywhere with no concern to anyone. From dirty water, - and I mean filthy, - to trash beyond the definition of litter, to literal stench as you walked down streets, and other noted environmental concerns which would, - and should, - disturb the average American regarding basic cleanliness.

Why is it that people feel the world’s roadsides, or anywhere else for that matter, are their trash can? What is the big problem with keeping that empty pop can, - or water bottle, - and disposing of it in a trash can. There are plenty of places to properly dump your trash located all over the place, - trash cans in front of stores, at gas stations, even at your home, - which would make the world much more attractive.

Trust me, I see lots of litter, all kinds of which some I don’t wish to mention the identity. Sometimes we wonder why people are the way they are. Why do they discard their garbage out the window of their car? I think the answer is simple and somewhat three-fold, - some people are lazy, they flat don’t care, and littering is simply convenient. But with a little effort on one’s part our country side, not to mention every other place one sees, - could and would be much more attractive and appealing. And think about it, Congress wouldn’t have to raise taxes to fix this.