My wife and I walk our dog every morning along the Parkway that borders Desoto State Park. We always carry a couple of plastic bags to pick up trash, and it’s a rare morning that we don’t pick up at least one piece of litter – usually more. The most common litter is empty beer cans/bottles, followed closely by empty pop cans, fast food bags/waste, and energy drink bottles.
I often wonder what people are thinking as they dispose of their garbage out the window of their vehicle. We moved to Alabama a little over 12 years ago, and one of things I noticed from the first time we arrived is the great pride most Alabamians take in their state. Nowhere is this pride more justified than in the beautiful mountains of Northeast Alabama. Yet, drive any of the many mountain roads and you can’t help but notice the large amount of trash along the road side. Driving up Wade’s Gap is one of the worst. Despite the efforts of volunteer groups and local jail work parties to collect the trash, it just never stops accumulating.
Unfortunately, anti-litter laws are very difficult to enforce, especially on rural roads. We are forced to rely on the common decency of our neighbors to not throw their waste out the window. We will probably never be able to convince most of these offenders to change their ways, but we could perhaps make a change in the next generation. Our schools could make a concerted effort to teach children that littering hurts everyone and they, in turn, could preach the message to their parents. Laws requiring seat belts and no smoking in public areas were ignored by many when first introduced but, over time, people got used to them and now we rarely see offenders. We should try to do the same for litter laws. Not throwing your trash out the window is not a difficult rule to follow.
I would be most interested in having one or more of these offenders send letters to this paper explaining their rationale for littering.
John Streatfeild, Fort Payne, Alabama
Send letters to the Times-Journal by writing P.O. Box 680349, Fort Payne, AL 35968. Fax 256-845-7459. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.