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Trash talking

By Ed Parsons - Editor | Nov 18, 2020

No, we’re not talking about sports teams or politics, we’re talking about real trash, the stuff you see piling up along the highways and by-ways, we’re talking about streams, creeks, neighborhoods, blighted areas of our communities and a complete disregard for mother nature.

The area we call almost Heaven, is high on the list of states deemed to be the worst in the nation. One trip from Parkersburg to Wheeling along the beautiful Ohio River reveals the attitude of a large majority of individuals who seem to forget about waste containers. A drive through the countryside, while beautiful during the summer, turns to a nightmare once the leaves fall and the ground cover is gone.

The question is why does this continue? I have my thoughts on this, and it seems as though they are in line with many others. “People just don’t care.”

The river of trash and recyclables added a new stream in recent months, discarded face masks and disposable gloves tossed on sidewalks and streets and store parking lots.

November 15, was designated as America Recycles Day, one would think the amount of litter would decrease, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The flood of garbage grows larger every year, threatening to swamp our roadways, cities, states and waterways.

It’s basic math, as the population of the U.S. grows, so does the amount of trash we produce. During a recent political rally involving a bunch of trucks with flags and signs, I witnessed several items from local fast food restaurants being discarded out the windows. While the banners and flags read “Keep America Great” I couldn’t help wondering if that included our environment. One of the worlds largest tragedies is litter. Millions of dollars are spent each year combating the problem, only to have uneducated, uncaring people use our country as their own personal landfill.

We have had unusually warm and dry weather this year. One would think there would be better enforcement and cleanup, however observations show otherwise. While checking the records, we have not seen where there has been one person cited, yet the side of the roadways are again covered in trash. It is a shame, just one or two citations could help with the cleanup expenses.

The State of West Virginia spends more than $1 million annually is spent to remove litter from state highways, while the annual cost of roadside litter control nationwide is $115 million. Highway litter detracts from the natural beauty of the state, it harms birds, animals and fish and is a safety hazard to motorists, bikers, hikers, picnickers and swimmers. It degrades the quality of life in the state, and deters economic development, as prospects may choose a cleaner site for new business.

Highway litter is composed of 59 percent paper, 16 percent cans, 6 percent bottles, 6 percent plastics and 13 percent miscellaneous. The items most often found during litter cleanups are fast-food wrappers. The second-most-often found items are aluminum beer cans, followed very closely by soda cans.

Cigarette butts are not considered when addressing litter cleanups programs. However, they are the most littered item in the world and are toxic to the environment. Do yourself a favor, dispose of your litter in trash containers, keep a trash bag in your vehicle. You’ll feel better about yourself, while getting a little exercise and possibly saving yourself from a large fine. It only takes a moment to do the right thing, “Keep America Beautiful.”