We’re never going to get all this trash up, you know.
It’s everywhere, in the streets, in the woods, in the river, in the ocean.
You can have all the community cleanups you want, and you’ll never get it all, and not only that, but it will return as soon as you’re done, because people will keep discarding more.
The only way to get ahead would be to have a big cleanup every day, until we were collecting more trash than people were throwing out.
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The reason that’s the only way is the only other way isn’t going to happen: The other way would be for people to quit tossing trash down everywhere they go – on the roads, in the parks, at the football stadiums, on the riverwalk, in the parking lot at the drive-through.
Speaking of the latter, I was wasting my life on Facebook the other day when I saw a post about a confrontation involving littering at a drive-thru. And it was on the Internet so it must be true.
A motorist reported seeing people throw some trash out just 10 feet or so from a garbage can, and asking one of them if she meant to do that, because, quote, “it is nobody's responsibility to clean up after her but herself.”
This had the outcome you would expect: The litterers apologized profusely, picked up the trash and promised never to do it again.
Just kidding. Allegedly a passenger got out shouting obscenities and splashed an alcoholic beverage on the complainant’s car, then got back inside and came back out brandishing a bottle of liquor and threatening to “whoop” the complainant’s butt.
This anecdote provoked reactions ranging from suggestions the litter-conscious mind their own business to proposing they call the police.
If the post is true – and it’s on Facebook, so it must be, just like everything the Russians tell us – then calling the police perhaps is unnecessary.
Not only were the litterers allegedly drinking and driving, they also showed a striking lack of self-restraint in attempting to incite violence over slight provocation.
You never know who’s got a gun these days, particularly in a car. You get out of your car while you’re drinking and go over to someone else’s car and threaten that person, and you’re liable to wind up shot. If not shot, then jailed for being drunk and disorderly.
And for littering, of course. Not that the littering law deters anyone.
People driving around with guns in their cars also is a good reason not to bother telling them they’re littering. It’s not going to matter. They’re still going to throw their trash everywhere, no matter where they are.
Years ago you could backpack up a mountain and find pristine wilderness. Not anymore, because people who got there first left their trash behind – if it didn’t get there on its own, just by blowing in the wind.
On the rivers, it aggregates into rafts of tangled trash that land upon islands and lay claim to them, with successive layers of cans, bottles and assorted plastics.
Down the Chattahoochee River, at River Bend Park in Cusseta, an island off the boat ramp is so sedimented. Columbus’ nonprofit Chattahoochee RiverWarden is to hold a volunteer cleanup down there at 10 a.m. Saturday, boating over to ferry the garbage back.
But the problem remains the same: A place can be cleaned in a day, but it won’t stay that way, because the only way to keep it clean is to clean it every day.
Unless, of course, people quit throwing their trash down everywhere.