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Armchair Ponderings
Road trash is everyone’s problem

Guy Geller

Donuts on Cake

This past Saturday’s Enterprise Journal opinion page, which I read on a daily basis, featured a column by Patsy R. Brumfield concerning a tremendous litter problem in McComb. I completely agree with portions of that column, but I have to take exception to her suggested solutions. Instead of holding retailers solely responsible, maybe we need to look at a solution to eliminate the actual littering by going to the litterers.

Friday my wife, a friend and I rode the back country roads to Slidell, LA. As Ms. Brumfield pointed out the litter along the road is disheartening. We found it to be more prevalent in Mississippi; not to say that Louisiana was totally devoid of litter. We have ridden secondary roads in many of our Southern states. Until two years ago we had a cabin in North Georgia, taking frequent trips over a nine years period through Alabama, Georgia, sometimes the long way around Atlanta going all the way to Tennessee. We noticed that the fines of up to $2,500 for littering in Georgia might have been somewhat of a deterrent. There would be an occasional drink can and a sandwich container but no discarded garbage bags, no broken toilets, sofas and appliances.

My contention is that instead of adding regulations to businesses that already are weighted down by costly, local and federal regulations perhaps we should have more stringent fines to the individual litterer. Of course the guilty person has to be caught in the act. The truck and crew that are listed in the column could become garbage sleuths by finding names of the perpetrators in the garbage. Instead of pleading ignorance to what constitutes waste or garbage, the contractor or the county’s waste management office could send a letter to each subscriber listing what is recognized as garbage to be picked up and to state that old toilets, appliances, recliners and sofas don’t fall in that category.

The crews that pick up the weekly garbage could stand a little help. They are very conscientious and honorable workers and from what we see they go beyond the minimum. I see occasional mounds of garbage bags that have been split open with litter all around for ground man or the helper to pick up. I say man because I have never seen a woman ground person, if there are some I must include them in the praise that I give. Garbage cans are not cheap but when you spread the cost over several years, they are a good investment. It’s not that time consuming to first bag the garbage, then insert it into a covered can or maybe two.

I am not a frustrated garbage man, but I am a frustrated citizen of this county that frequently picks up litter in front of my home and in the ditches. There is an almost daily beer can and hamburger wrappers in front of our house, apparently a beer, can be consumed from a starting point and is emptied by the time the passenger reaches our property. I say passenger because the cans are in the ditch across the street, unless the driver lobs it over the roof of his or her vehicle.

There once was a “Keep Pike County Beautiful” organization; if it is still viable, it needs all the help it can get. A little support from schools might be good. Until recently our home was a block away from the South Pike School. Students walking back from the gas stations would simply drop paper and plastic in our yard or across the street. It really is not a generational thing. We lived in that house for twenty-three years and the thrash started right after we bought the house. I am certain that it went on for the prior owner.

Years ago, I was invited to be navigator on a sailboat race from Gulfport to Pensacola, the boat owner appeared to be very conscientious, all drink cans, sandwich wrappers and paper towels were placed in a full-sized garbage bag. In my mind I was singing that man’s praises. About a mile from the finish line, he closed up the bag and threw it overboard. I said a few disparaging words to the owner even though he was my host, and never sailed with him again. He thought that it was perfectly fine to litter the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

A child can see a parent toss trash out of a vehicle window, therefore thinks that it is acceptable. Parents should set a good example. We keep a grocery store bag in the car for that purpose.

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