LITTER!I’ll not likely confess it to their faces but my parents managed to teach me at least two things – 1) be kind to animals and 2) don’t litter.
Other than quick and easy access to Slurpees® the other upside to living just around the corner from a 7-11 is that as late as 7:35 I can run out for a Lotto ticket in time for the 7:45 draw.
The downside is the constant collection of debris from any fool who happens to finish his Slurpee® or chili dog or push-up pop in the time it takes to reach our house. The wrappings are left on our retaining wall
and on the sidewalk or gutter.
The worst is when they think they can hide their offense by tucking their trash into my plantings.
Who raised these pigs? (no offence to our swine friends is intended.)
Never in my life have I left a piece of trash where it didn’t belong. How much effort is there in either spotting a waste bin or simply carrying it to your final destination?
Let’s not do the math but I remember Lady Bird Johnson’s "Keep America Beautiful" campaign. You know, I think it did some good. It taught me that it wasn’t just my parents who held anti-litter beliefs. The campaign created a cultural awareness that a) America is beautiful and b) each of us is responsible for keeping it that way.
If I wear my bleeding heart liberal cap then I can look into the likely causes of littering – feelings of disenfranchisement and inattentive upbringing. If the first, I’m pretty sure the litterbugs are not homeowners. They feel no sense of investment and are not particularly concerned with the fact that while they are wandering the streets, enjoying their repast from 7-11, I am spending a huge chunk of my day either at work or commuting to/from work and I have little free time to clean up after them.
And so, they blight their own neighborhoods, making the upwardly mobile less likely to buy in, thwarting gentrification.
Not everyone is pro-gentrification and many are actively anti-. But everyone who owns a home is pro-increasing the resale value of his or her home. I don’t plan on selling my house any time soon but there are a few For Sale signs up in my neighborhood. I don’t want those houses on the market indefinitely and I certainly don’t want potential good neighbors discouraged because they see a bunch of food wrappers tucked into hedges. I want new neighbors who will make the effort to take care of their new homes. I want the kind of neighbors who don’t want to live in a neighborhood littered with trash.
I’m not saying I’m pro-gentrification but I don’t want this neighborhood to revert to the gang-y ghetto it was a few years ago.
But if the litterbugs are not invested in the community, then there is no incentive for them to keep the neighborhood moving upward. In fact, there is the disincentive of rising rents. But I don’t believe that the litterbugs are thinking it out this far. I do believe that they don’t think they owe me anything. They don’t believe they have a responsibility to me or to their own neighborhood. I’m sure they don’t even realize the power they have – that they themselves contribute to urban blight. They don’t realize that they have the power to live in a better neighborhood simply by not making it a worse neighborhood.
And there is the conundrum. They, the litterbugs, are not truly disenfranchised; not at all without power. They have power. The have as much power as any of us and they wield it all the time. They just don’t know it.
Lady Bird, where are you? Teach us your lessons again.