Driving to the chamber a few weeks ago, one of the parts of my car dropped off. I felt it, heard it and saw it go flying to the side of the road. It was a big part, so how could I miss it? I knew I had to return to find it. Turns out it was also an important big part. Upon my return, I drove up and down the street trying to find that valuable part. I never found it, but I encountered something else – lots of trash – and I mean lots. My car part was shiny, so I initially searched for shiny. Turns out that when you drive down a road with the sun shining in your eyes, plastic water bottles and soda cans look shiny. And that’s all I saw, bottle after shiny bottle and can, nothing that could be reattached to my car. But I did see other car parts, fast food bags and huge black garbage bags, which were stuffed full of trash! Then there was clothing – hats, shirts, shoes.
And it got worse the second time I went to search. On the side of the road was a mattress. So I am wondering, do all these people who keep throwing litter out of their car windows not have garbage cans and recycle bins at home? And if they do, why can’t they wait to get home to dispose of all of this trash properly? That’s what passenger seats and back seats are for.
At least that’s the way it works in my car. Finish up lunch? Wrappers go on the floor. Done with your Diet Coke? Can tossed to the floor. Every Friday becomes let’s clean out the car and start the next week off with an empty garbage free car waiting for the weekly trash duties.
But it seems my road to the chamber is not the only one experiencing a litter surplus. According to the Keep America Beautiful National Litter Study in 2020, these are the cold hard facts:
• There are nearly 50 billion pieces of litter along U.S. roadways and waterways.
• There is slightly more litter along waterways (25.9B) than roadways (23.7B).
• That’s 152 items for each U.S. resident.
• This means more than 2,000 pieces of litter per mile (both roadway and waterway).
• And in Florida we get the double whammy of roadways and waterways available for littering. Let’s try to cut down on that
152 items for each of us to zero. It really wouldn’t be that difficult. I promise I will keep doing my part by loading up my front seat. But I do ask, if you are going to throw out a perfectly good mattress, please give me a call first. Those suckers are expensive! I’d gladly take it out of your hands.
Lynne Conlan is executive director of the South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.