Editorial – Shame on Us!!! Our mindset is really, trashy!
Many decisions we make in our lives are driven by our individual mindsets, pre-conceived notions, or prejudices. For me, one of my pet peeves is trash on the roadsides. I make a conscious decision every time I have trash in my vehicle, to hang onto it until I can dispose of it properly. I do not consider throwing it out the window, disposing of it properly. Handling your trash correctly demonstrates respect for the outdoors, my neighbors, and others who don’t enjoy seeing other people’s trash where it’s not supposed to be. I don’t enjoy picking up trash along the roadside in front of my house and don’t believe others look forward to it in front of their houses either. I guess this attitude of mine was developed from an early age by spending time outdoors and enjoying nature, something I still do every chance I get. I wish others looked at our environment this way. I’m a lifelong scouter and one of the guidelines we use is leave no trace. When camping or participating in any outdoor activity, our goal is to leave the area in better shape than we found it. Litter, as we call it, has a profound, negative effect on a community, and it seems the Mississippi community just does not care. Litter is an eye sore, a hazard to the environment, a detriment to development, and easily avoided just by finding a trash can. I think most everyone, if they think about it, would agree there is way too much trash on our roadways. Some is thrown out by people who just don’t care. Their parents should have taught them better. Some think they are doing a good thing by putting their loose trash in the back of their truck. The reality is that a lot of it blows out and becomes part of our landscape. A trashy looking roadside causes an army of volunteers and elected officials to work hours and spend funds that could be better spent on other things. It’s also disheartening to clean a section of a road only to find it re-littered within a few days. For those who are considering moving their family, or a business or manufacturing facility and the jobs that come with it, a trashy looking roadside does not make a very good impression and can make it harder to lure people that will expand our tax base and improve our quality of life. While sitting in a recent governmental board meeting, it became apparent from the discussion that we must have a new generation of litterers due to the amount of trash we have to endure along our streets and highways. There is no way to estimate the total cost to taxpayers of picking up and disposing of litter. But, we can speculate about what we could do for our schools, highways, hospitals, and other important services with the money used on litter control. In my travels around the country, I have seen very few places with the litter problem that seems to be so prevalent in our area. What’s the difference? How do we address this problem? Enact laws? We have them. They are seldom enforced because of the difficulty of gathering evidence and proving a case against a suspect. Beg and plead? I’m doing that now. So are some of our elected officials. Nothing seems to work, even though highways in some other states are remarkably free of the scourge. Back to our mindsets. I think those who are concerned about the litter problem on our roadways have got to find a way to change the way of thinking of those who litter, and, more importantly, the mindset of the next generation. Convincing the next generation would go a long way toward breaking the cycle. I’m not sure how we do that, but it is probably the only way to solve the problem. The problem certainly can’t be legislated out of existence. The best way to deal with the littering disease is on an individual basis with all of us placing waste in its proper place, patrolling our property, and recognizing that the cost of litter control hits every pocketbook. Through the years, it has always seemed a waste of newspaper space to rail against litter and litterers. However, if we can cause even one litterer to change their ways, it would be one step in reducing our shame and trashiness. I invite your thoughts and ideas on this problem. Submit a letter to the editor of this newspaper, let your voice be heard, and become a part of the solution. John Carney