Ditch cleaning effort displays ugly attitude for littering

Like a year-end stock market report, here is the annual year-end litter report from Muskellunge Creek Bottom in northwest Ohio:

The collection of littered beer cans, a leading indicator of slob behavior, for the 12 months ending Dec. 31, 2016, was up slightly at 597, an increase of 10 over 2015. Statistically, that is more or less steady, meaning no improvement or further decline in behavior of careless drinking drivers. About 50 cans a month, month in and month out.

Nearly 1,200 cans in two years on just three miles of rural roadsides (both sides of the pavement) is an indication that the throw-away ethic is strong and deeply rooted in the American psyche.

Most of the cans are decorated in various patterns of red, white, and blue, which seems a favorite choice among the brewing giants of cheap beerdom. What a wonderful, patriotic tribute to America the Beautiful. Some discussion:

Beer cans littered carelessly and selfishly along our roadsides, besides being illegal from littering and drunk-driving standpoints, indicate our collective disdainful attitude toward the land. It is a perilous disconnect that will come to haunt us or those who come after us. Beer cans, of course, are not all. Plenty of fast-food packaging, convenience-store junk, soft drink cans, assorted bottles (beer, food products), tobacco-product packaging, and other trash also get tossed, right up to and including a recliner chair.

But nothing quite displays as well or is as prevalent as the nice shiny beer can. Smashed flat under foot, you can reasonably expect to stuff 30 to 35 in a standard plastic grocery flimsy. The local scrap yard pays the princely sum of 30 to 35 cents a pound for the aluminum, depending on the market. A standard black plastic garbage bag of flatties will weigh about eight pounds, netting a whole $2.40. You cannot do it for the money.

What does all this say about us as a people, about our regard for the way we treat the land? Sum it in three words: Shame on us.

When you are driving, fight off the road-glaze in your vision and start noticing, paying attention to what you see, the rampant ugliness of litter, and so much else. Look at what we have become. We each need to do something about it. Or, shame on us. We flaunt our arrogance toward the land at our peril; littering is just symbolic of a deeper attitude of disdain.

Already now in 2017, I see fresh beer cans, mostly 25-ounce tall-boys, starting to accumulate in the ditches and on the berms in the self-same three miles of rural around my home. If the average pace of littering is maintained, I’ll be able to bag about 50 cans on my next “ditchpig” walk at month’s end.


Categories: Blog Content, Ohio – Steve Pollick

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