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Op-Ed: Time To Clean Up Our Act and Our Garbage

By Sandy Sand     Mar 11, 2009 in Environment
Everywhere we go, inner space, outer space, above ground, underground we leave a trash trail in our wake. A new report released recently found that ocean and sea floors were littered with 6.8 million pounds of trash.
It’s enough to turn one's stomach, and there no polite way of saying it: People, worldwide, are &*^$#@ing slobs and don’t deserve to live on this beautiful blue planet, because we are lousy caretakers who don’t seem to do anything but louse it up with garbage.
Of course, that’s a rash generalization, but nonetheless, seemingly true, because while there are people who are devoted to keeping the planet green, blue and beautiful, they are vastly out-numbered by the slobs of the world.
For proof, in a single day last year, 400,000 volunteers around the world collected 6.8 million pounds of trash from sea shores, ocean floors and river bottoms, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Ocean Conservancy, following its 23rd Coastal Cleanup that took place last September.
If the report isn’t enough to convince you that thoughtless, selfish, lazy slobs rule, just look down when stepping off a curb, walking through a park, entering a public restroom or any place that isn’t your home.
One hundred-four countries participated in the cleanup effort with half the 400,000 volunteers coming from the United States.
Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the Ocean Conservancy, said:
"Our ocean is sick, and our actions have made it so. The evidence turns up every day in dead and injured marine life, littered beaches that discourage tourists, and choked ocean ecosystems."
Brian Skoloff, the writer of the Associated Press story that appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News, said:
“…illustrating that careless people are discarding trash just about everywhere, with much of it eventually finding an aquatic home…”
To say that people are careless doesn’t come close to describing our garbage-tossing nature.
Ever give a thought to why public restrooms are filthy, disgusting places that make you feel like you have to take a shower after leaving one?
It’s because they are for the public’s use and people feel like they can do anything they please, anywhere they please, because it’s not their home.
While it’s true that some people are as big of slobs in their own homes as they are any place else, there's something about public bathrooms that makes people feel they have a license to do any sloppy, disgusting thing they want…like throwing trash on the floor, leaving the water running and not flushing.
Faulty plumbing and lack of maintenance is also part of the problem.
Of course, there wouldn’t be such a great need for maintenance if people would clean up after themselves and not flush things down the john that they shouldn’t.
With all the trash cans around in parks, on beaches, on sidewalks there isn’t an excuse in the world for anyone tossing trash anywhere except in a can.
And in case there isn’t a trash receptacle at their fingertips, they can use their pockets, use the plastic bag they’re carrying, use their purse or briefcase, carry it with them until they find a garbage can, or take it home and toss it in their own can. As a last resort, they can use the floor of their car…everyone else does, but like everyone else, don’t clean out your car or empty the ashtrays on the blacktop of the parking lot.
And speaking of ashtrays, as an E-vil smoker, I hate to mention this stat from the report, but I will.
Of the 11.4 million pounds of trash they collected worldwide, which weighted a total of 6.8 million pounds, there were 3.2 million cigarette butts, which is kind of a misnomer, because the tobacco and the paper are biodegradable…it’s the filters that aren’t, but they could be if they were manufactured to biodegrade.
We E-vil smokers could field strip our butts and stick them in our pocket. Of course, then it would get washed with our jeans, not to be found again until the next time we stick our hand in our pocket, but they’ll be the cleanest filters in the world.
It would be interesting to know how they came up with an exact count of the number of butts they collected. Did they collect them separately and put them in bags marked “butts only?”
Did they count out how many butts are in an eighth- or quarter-pound of butts and then multiply by the total number of pounds? Or is it really a guestimate?
The report also said there were 1.4 million plastic bags, 942,000 food containers and wrappers, 937,000 caps and lids, and 26,585 tires among the throw-aways that were retrieved for proper disposal.
The bottom line is, that as much as industry pollutes, if we -- collectively -- did our part to keep our planet, our home, as clean as possible, a huge dent could be made in pollution.
A few people can’t do it. Everyone must do it. No excuses.
The next cleanup is scheduled for September 19.
It will be interesting to see if Ocean Conservancy’s message is getting through to thick-headed slobs, and fewer pound of trash are collected.
If they collect as much or more than the last cleanup, maybe they need to do it every month. Trash slobs might need constant monitoring and trash nannies to follow them wherever they go.
The Earth is our home; it’s as much if not more than our home than any edifice we build around us to reside in. Keep it clean.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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