This is a column I wrote for the Georgetown News Graphic. They have yet to run it…possibly too risky?
You would think I get the most feedback from my crazy animal stories. You would think that a brown boxer who defies death or loose calf would stir emotions but I have to tell you…I get the most response when I write about trash. I must admit, the baby possums did come in a close second.
This delights me in a way. After all, I am really passionate about the litter problem here in Scott County. You would think I could write column after column about all the trash I find. And I could. But do you all really care that I had to report three 55 gallon drums, half full with used oil, that were dumped at the corner of HWY 25 and HWY 32 (right next to the creek no doubt)? Do you care that I found 4 more smaller drums dumped on the side of the road on HWY 460?
Or maybe I should tell you about the black spray-painted S10 pick-up that flew by me the other day when I was biking and nearly nailed me in the head with a Mountain Dew can. As I continued to pedal I noticed several more Mountain Dew cans along the same stretch of road. He must do it regularly. I would have chased him on my bike but even if I were that fast, what would I say to him?
I could tell him the story I told the Rotary Club on Tuesday. I told them about how when I moved here over 12 years ago I was taken aside by a neighbor and told politely not to say GD. “Gee Dee? What the hell is Gee Dee?” He explained to me that is was short for God Damn. You see, growing up in northern Minnesota we don’t say Oops…we say GD. I was instantly ashamed and changed my language.
I realized that by taking Gods name in vane I was offending people. But where I come from, the earth is sacred…a gift from god. And if you litter or dump or abuse the earth, well… then you are spitting on that gift. And I find that offensive.
And I am not the only one. I hear from people who tirelessly go around their neighborhoods picking up the trash only to find more trash the next day. I also hear people say, “We need to get the correctional facility out here to pick up trash again.” But mostly I hear people say, “What do we do about it?”
Well that is exactly the question I pose to you, the reader, today. What do we do about it? Well I can tell you one thing; we can remove all those signs that say, ‘$500 fine for littering’ because we all know that unless we can actually fine a person, the signs serve no purpose. The judicial process isn’t ideal when it comes to littering fines. Do we call the correctional facility? Because you know last year they cleaned up 326.7 miles of roadway and removed 15,126 bags of trash. Pretty impressive. And it only cost you $77,000 of your money. If you think that this means we have 326.7 miles of spotless roads you are wrong, because most likely we will remove more than 15,126 bags of trash from those same exact roads next year. Is this the answer?
I ask you the reader because I am at a loss. And because I am in a position to make a difference if I just had the solution to the problem. I’ve been asked to sit on the Scott County Solid Waste Advisory Committee. One of the subjects we plan to tackle is the litter problem. I want to bring great ideas to the committee and I am hoping that you will supply me with them.
For those of you who prefer the usual light topics of my column I truly apologize. You are welcome to contact me too and tell me ‘shut up and stick with animal rescue stories’. Either way I want to hear from you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Facebook.