Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nature's Bounty

This was part of our haul on a short hike up the Sam Merrill Trail Monday. Most other days there isn't much trash. But after the weekend, when the non-regulars, dilettantes and drinkers have been there, you don't have to go far to find this much—about a mile and a third, what locals call "to the towers".

The photo doesn't include three more plastic bottles and an oreo cookie we found on the way out of the park, perched next to the "$1000 Fine For Littering" sign.

You, my dear readers, do not litter. Of course not. So ranting here will be lost on you. I'll be grateful, though, if you'll allow me to get it off my chest.

Why do you suppose people litter? What makes them think it's okay to drop a plastic bottle just anywhere, when it's going to take a thousand years or more for the thing to biodegrade? Why can't they take it with them and recycle it, or at least put it in a trash bin? Surely a person strong enough to hike up a steeply graded hill still has the strength to carry an empty bottle to the trash. I'm especially amazed by runners who charge up and down the hill and toss bottles into the bushes when they're finished because carrying it might interfere with—what? Rhythm? Speed? Pace? Which is more important, the planet or one runner's perfect mile?

If you'd seen us coming down the trail Monday morning, our pockets full of plastic bottles and paper cups, you'd have thought we'd been up there on the mountain hydrating all night. We have to leave behind the stuff that's too precarious—either too far down the escarpment or stuck high up in branches. The park rangers, or nature, will have to deal with it.

There you go, your tax dollars at work cleaning up after some lazy #%$& who can't be bothered to carry a teeny weeny plastic bottle. Well, you know how burdensome an empty bottle can get. I carried two or three of 'em the other day myself. Whew.

27 comments:

pasadenaadjacent said...

I hear ya! My beef is the helium balloons. The silver jobs seem to regularly lodge into inaccessible terrain. Ugly.

ben wideman said...

I love it! Keep ranting.

Laurie said...

I hear ya, sister! This is one of my gripes, too. I don't have the time for much hiking anymore but I feel the same thing about all the trash I find at parks and playgrounds. I can't imagine why people can't put their garbage in the MANY trashcans provided. I also don't understand why they are setting such a bad example for their children.

Sigh.

Lic said...

As much as I dislike litterbugs, I have to confess a morbid fascination with rude, entitled behavior of any kind. What must it be like to steamroll through life as if you’ve had your common sense, empathy, respect and consideration for others surgically removed? It bottles the mind (sorry.)

Anonymous said...

Good post. Of course, I can rarely get Yayo to put basura in the basura basket, even in the house. Good thing we rarely go outside.

Bernie K. said...

As Porkypine said, "Mumpf, mumpf, mumpf—!

(For details, see this.)

Mike said...

I hear y'all, too! The echo is still in my ears.

Good to see you let the doppleganger side of you come out to rant a byte.

P, I love the jobs you, Palm, & the Alta hiker have: hiker. Are there any good paying openings for hiker in the area? I'm very interested.

USelaine said...

You are a blessed being, Petrea. I think cleaning up what we can helps reduce the idiot factor a bit. A pristine landscape is less of a junk magnet than a scene of pre-existing trash (what's one more?). You probably remember Lady Bird Johnson's very successful campaign to beautify America's highways. Road margins used to be running streams of all kinds of discards before we saw all those public service announcements of hers. I can still envision the before and after shots.

Knoxville Girl said...

I've never understood how some folks can just casually drop their trash like that and move on. Perhaps they weren't paying attention in science class, and still think the earth revolves around them. Bless your sweet heart for cleaning the trail.

Susan C said...

I agree that litter bugs are the scum of the earth.

Just the other day, I saw a passenger in a Lexus open the door and discard his empty soda cup near the freeway entrance. The noive!

Mike said...

USelaine, I don't think Petrea has a good recall on ladybird johnson, because it doesn't even look like petrea was yet born at the time.

USelaine said...

You're so right, Mike. But I'll bet Bernie K. remembers.

Laurie said...

I'm from Austin and I remember
Ladybird's beautification of Town Lake with rows of Cherry trees. So pretty in the spring.

Sharon said...

Great comments! I agree 100%. It made me think of the number of times I've cleared away a plastic bag or candy wrapper or water bottle before I took a picture.

Anonymous said...

Oh, oh, oh, I'll let you respond to mr. mike on that one, P.

Ted Thompson said...

I'm a smoker (yes I know... -_-;)

Those filters take forever to decompose too. I always (ok, lets get honest here, not always... but most of the time, especially in a "wilderness area") knock off the tops and then stick the filter in my pocket until I get to a trash can.

Taught to me by a vet (He called it "Field Stripping"), seems the military types would do this so they didn't get stuck picking up their own butts when policing the grounds...

Stinks like hell - but hey, I'm the guy smoking so I should deal with it - if I can pocket a stinky filter why can't others carry a bottle?

Apathy. We humans aren't as bad as we once were with this (like 50 years ago) but it seems we are slowly slipping back into old habits.

Most folks today grew up in the cleaner, post 70's anti-pollution, era. They don't recall the waterways clogged with debris or highways lined with litter...

altadenahiker said...

There is something agressively ugly about the people who trash wilderness areas. And something aggressively lovely about those who clean it up.

Kris said...

I hate litterers. In fact, among the most enjoyable part of my day is embarrassing people who just drop stuff on the ground. Just yesterday arvo at the bus stop, I saw one bloke drop an empty can on the footpath with a bin not three meters away. Fortunately, the shame of being pulled up saw him put it in. It not always a bad thing, shame.

Christie said...

Way to go, Petrea!! Good for you!

babooshka said...

As you say your'e preaching to the choir here. One of my own favourite post was just a photo and a rant about litterbugs. It's a universal crime(and I do mean crime) and it's also univerally condemned. I have said it before, we share this planet, not own it.

One day I will catch someone in the act and I will name, shame and photograph them. I more than hear you. I'm sreaming along with you.

Petrea said...

So many great comments today. Thanks. It would be insane to reply to each individually! Just a few notes:

Mike: Freelancers work plenty hard, just not necessarily 9 to 5. It's a choice. It's 8:55 pm and I just got home.

I remember Lady Bird Johnson and her anti-litter campaign, bless her! She changed America with it. I was born during Eisenhower's presidency. You're a gentleman, Mike.

Ted: I used to smoke. It's hard to quit. But it's easy to be a considerate smoker. Good for you.

Kris and Babooshka: shaming them isn't easy for everyone, but more people should try. My husband John stops people in the act when he sees them, and they always pick it up.

One last thing, and I want to say I appreciate this: some commenters have trouble signing in and I don't know why, but a couple took time to email me. Here is Diva's comment, and she says it all:

"Re litter- this is the ultimate act of selfishness in my view - expresses disdain for others and shows a total lack of appreciation of our natural world. Unfortunately it is in our culture and happens everywhere.
Behaviorists say that empathy is an index of maturity. Doesn't littering demonstrate low ability to empathize with others?"

Mike said...

P, i don't know why some readers suddenly can't comment on your blog. Without knowing what's happenin on their end, It could be several things, all but one a dead end.

1 Q: Would they say they have the problem only on your site, or only on a blogger blog??

Thanks 4 your gentlewomanly generosity to call me a gentleman. Some women just like to call me that name. I guess I'm not trying hard enuf to shed that label.

Have you ever tried the omelettes at Zephyr? Yes?, what ya think?

Petrea said...

Mike: it's not sudden, and I think these readers frequent my blog only and not others. They're family. I don't know what to tell them because they're far away. It seems to be a problem with the sign-in process.

Haven't had the Zephyr omelet, only the coffee. What's your review?

Cafe Observer said...

P, it sounds like it's on their end. It could probably be remedied ez enuf if you or I were sittin on their side of the computer.

Same here as you: only coffee, no omelettes - until this morning! I gotta digest what I just experienced b4 I comment.

keith said...

First of all, thank you for helping to keep the trails clean.

All these anti-litter comments are encouraging. I've noticed that more people than I would have expected pick up not only after themselves but a little extra too. They're still a small minority though.

I think Uselaine is right. Keeping an area clean does inhibit most people from littering. They can't say "everyone else does it".

Dina said...

Love your quip about could have been hydrating all night.
Like your caring.

We have an underground spring with caves to enter and such, right down from our village. It's a magnet for school trips and once-a-year Orthodox Jews in nature. But there are no trash cans there (I guess no one to walk down and haul trash away). Signs say to take away your own stuff. But people bag it up neatly and leave it under a fig tree, not knowing that at night the jackals, cats, and dogs will rip it open and scatter everything not edible.
The Hadassah Hospital (on the next hilltop) staff volunteers to periodically clean up the spring and Hadassah Trail. Oi. . .
The mess depresses me so that I seldom go down there anymore.

Petrea said...

"Once-a-year Orthodox Jews in nature" sounds like a summer camp that wouldn't have me.

I know what you mean, Dina. There are a couple of spots around here that were once lovely, now so ruined by graffiti and trash that I no longer want to go. You live in a lovely place and I live in a lovely place, but we live in the world, and there are thoughtless people no matter where you go. I guess that means there's always a challenge.