Littering is for Crass-Souls: Part 1 — The Problem

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Building debris, Photo: Kelly Dean

Littering is for Crass-Souls: Part 1 — The Problem

By Kelly Dean

Florida has much to be proud of when it comes to waste and recycling. Florida’ recycling rate is 54% as of 2015 and on its way to 75% by 2020, according to the Department of Environmental Protection site here. Obviously, many Floridians have their priorities straight when it comes to Florida’s natural beauty.

Yet in the rural or less-developed areas, there’s still some issues with people simply disposing of their responsibilities and giving them to others. I can’t say whether it’s the in-town or suburbanite folks disposing of their junk outside the city or just some locals being irresponsible. I don’t know.

Furthermore, it’s not an epidemic, nor exclusive to this state by any stretch of the imagination. The state is still a beauty, but people need to do a gut-check when it comes to keeping our surroundings nice.

A certain descriptive word comes to mind when it comes to littering. It rhymes with crass-souls — glib — perhaps, but nonetheless accurate. That’s because these people not only trash our surroundings, but they also dispose of their problems by forcing others take care of them: a double whammy, character-wise.

Nothing speaks better than pictures, so here are a few, along with some harsh words.

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Intersection trash, Photo: Kelly Dean

Littering

I have never been able to understand people who litter: people who are willing to deface our surroundings because they absolutely must throw that empty soft drink can or fast food trash out of their car window rather than dispose of it in the trash at home. I don’t get it. I bet their homes and cars are clean, however. Certainly, it’s somebody else’s problem now.

I’ve taken time to walk intersections with a bag to pick up the trash because I haven’t come up with a better solution, the litterers are long gone. People shouldn’t have to do this, lest the litterers want me throwing my trash in their neighborhood.

Garbage trucks

In fairness, some of the trash comes from the garbage trucks, either blowing out of the back of the trucks while driving or simply being sloppy when power-lifting the dumpsters and tipping them into the vehicle. I’ve seen this.

Hey, garbage companies, I respect what you do, but it’s part of your job to pick up trash, not to spread it around. So do you have any ideas? Is there something we need to do to help? Is bagging everything something we should consider, including businesses? If so, what about recyclables? They are generally not bagged. Should we look into this?

Nevertheless, one can easily distinguish between blown trash and trash that’s too heavy to blow. Also, common sense says trash trucks are a very small percentage of the problem. Trash trucks aren’t picking up trash at intersections, folks.

This trash is coming from cars. It includes plastic coffee shop cups, straws, fast food debris, small bags of accumulated vehicle trash, soda and beer cans.

I once found an empty E.P.T. box at the side of the road and I don’t even want to know how that was accomplished.

Dumping

Dumping, on the other hand, escalates littering to a different level. Illegal dumping is when individuals, businesses and even large companies take loads of debris and simply find a place to dump it on vacant land or lot somewhere.

I have seen everything from common trash to 5-gallon sealed buckets containing who-knows-what. It’s simply tucked into a palmetto and pine stand — or just dumped at the side of the road.

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Industrial debris, Photo: Kelly Dean

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Excavation dirt, Photo: Kelly Dean

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Building debris, Photo: Kelly Dean

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Lawn debris, Photo: Kelly Dean

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Old construction debris, Photo: Kelly Dean

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Old mattresses, Photo: Kelly Dean

I’ve seen old tile, auto body parts, building supplies, fill dirt, old palates, garbage bags, mattresses, furniture and Venetian blinds (which look really, really nice when the mowers hit them, by the way).

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Unknown sealed container, Photo: Kelly Dean

Residents who live near popular dumping sites in the more undeveloped areas are not only treated to a daily eyesore — and a mess they must now clean up — but they’re inheriting the potentially hazardous chemicals that might end up in their wells, just because a load of you-name-it becomes an inconvenience to someone. If not them, then the taxpayer has to take care of it in many cases, but I’m generally into personal responsibility myself. This shouldn’t be government’s job.

Wildlife and livestock must deal with the stuff too, if it happens to be dumped where they live. Bags and small pieces of plastic can get into the backwaters, bays and oceans and cause serious injury to our wildlife. Plastic and wildlife don’t mix well.

If you have any comments or ideas, feel free to add them below.

** Editor’s note: Following-up with local political figures, who were unavailable for comment at press time, revealed that efforts are underway to help with these two issues. These efforts include volunteer trash pickup events and local ordinances to alleviate blown construction debris. This is a start, so we’ll follow-up with a part two when the next event happens and we can join in on the plan.

However, personal responsibility dictates that we don’t litter in the first place and leave it to someone else, of course.

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