Thursday, March 13, 2008


Where's my soapbox?

I despise littering. Christian knows. When we first started dating I would get SO mad when he would litter. He doesn't anymore. At least not around me.

Here's what I often wonder when I see people litter: Who exactly are you expecting to pick that up? No really. Think about it. Who should be in charge of picking that up just because you were too lazy to carry it to a trash can?

I'm pretty passionate about this. Maybe it's because I grew up near big beautiful fields, or maybe because I participated in lots of service groups where we picked up trash, or maybe it's just because I get so annoyed when I'm running on a beautiful single-track trail surrounded by nature and I see a beer can thrown into a bush.

So to all my readers (Ha! Since there are so many of you...), I'd ask you to consider the following taken from an environmental awareness handout by the US National Parks Service as an activity for 4th graders:

Decomposition times:
Paper: 2 – 4 weeks
Orange or Banana Peel: Up to 2 years
Cigarette Butts: 1 – 5 years
Wool Socks: 1 – 5 years
Disposable Diaper: 10 – 20 years
Plastic Bag: 10 – 20 years
Leather Boot: Up to 50 years
Aluminum Can: 80 – 100 years
Plastic 6-Pack Holder: 100 years

And we're not talking about just litter on the side of the street. These things will sit in a landfill for that many years. The rate at which we dispose of these things is insanely higher than the rate at which they decompose. I, too, need to pay more attention to how much stuff I throw away.

So next time you consider throwing that plastic in the trash, put it in recycling instead. And next time you think about buying a 6-pack of soda, buy a 12-pack that comes in recycleable cardboard instead of a plastic 6-pack holder (and then recycle the cans). And next time you go to buy something, check to make sure it hasn't been wrapped in plastic 5 different ways. If so, put it back on the shelf and grab the brand that has less packaging.

And next time you think about tossing something out your car window or throwing it in a bush where no one will see it, imagine me smacking you upside the head--twice.

(Picture source:


LJ said...

ew a diaper lasts that long? I had no idea!

Ashley said...

I volunteer to drink a 12 pack instead of a 6 pack.

I am not as vigilant as I should be at limiting packaging and whatnot, but I would never litter.

And I did buy that ugly water crock situation!

Sally Teeple said...

My husband is from Kansas, and when we visit his family I'm always amazed at how most people there don't really recycle. But it's not because they don't want to--it's because they don't have a recycling service that comes to your house like we have. If they want to recycle, they have to, like, actually drive their recyclables to the recycling plant. So when I'm there, I have to put cans and cereal boxes and stuff in the trash can, and it hurts. I love California.

Sally Teeple said...

And it's not like they live in the boonies. They live in a fairly affluent suburb of Kansas City. Crazy.

Josh, Veronica, and Savannah said...

Littering annoys the heck out of me too! I can't stand it when I have been driving and stopped at a light where someone decides to empty their car of trash out their sun roof.
Before we had Savannah we wanted to go cloth diapers instead of disposable. We didn't because we were moving and there was a minimum limit to the service and we wouldn't be able to use it all. So, disposable diapers was the way we went. I still think about cloth diapers but now that I have used disposable for so long it is hard to convince myself that I need to leave that life behind.
I am proud though that I don't toss out diapers with poo in them; it goes right in the toilet. So many diseases start from human waste that I figure if I am compromising with disposable I better be doing something good for us like not contributing to disease.

Ed & Lindsey said...

I am definitely recycle happy. In Utah they make it so easy and give everyone a garbage can to recycle pretty much, cans, plastic bags. It has been harder to recycle here. It's definitely not as easy when you have to search out bins, etc. We also bring our own plastic bags to the grocery store. I hate throwing things away. Luckily my parents implemented the importance of recycling. Nice post!

Jenni said...

I have to agree. I was covering a basketball game once and this kid was subbing in and as he ran over to the table, he took out his gum and threw it on the floor. I was flabbergasted! I thought, "hey, don't you know it's stupid people like you that I want to smack everytime sometimes steps in/sits on/touches old chewing gum (and I have done all three)?" Littering is very bad and I'm glad I live in California where recycling is a way of life. I do have to say, though, based on that handout thing with decomp times, it looks like banana and orange peels are considered trash. I totally disagree. They come from the environment and, in my opinion, can go straight back to the environment. I would never throw them in plain view, but I would throw them in a bush.