Welcome to the em space, a staff commentary page with reflections -- sometimes serious, sometimes light -- on life experiences in Logan County and beyond. Thank you for reading.

- Mary Krallmann

Litter: An Itemized List

[FEB. 29, 2000]  The temperature went up, the snow piles went down, the sun came out and what a mess in sight: trash.

Suddenly the careless discards of recent weeks lay exposed on the ground. Whether dropped on the spot or windblown from who knows where, they became the most noticeable items on streets no longer covered with snow.

Usually a person can keep a limited outdoor area litter-free by picking up stray items as they appear. In this case, the melting snow revealed a bigger problem all at once.

I thought about it during the work week as I went back and forth along familiar routes. With a mild Saturday afternoon at my disposal, I did something about it.

This was no major plan to clean up the world, the county or the city. I merely grabbed a grocery sack and went out to collect the unnecessary extras strewn on the street where I live. I kept it simple: just one short block, from curb to curb, and I didn’t prowl around my neighbor’s vehicles too closely.

Sweet gum seed balls didn’t count as trash in this case. I figure they were made to fall where they will. Some folks prefer to pick them up, and at times I do too, but this wasn’t one of those times.

To my surprise, I finished the project in less than 15 minutes. A small effort can make a big difference.

A few days later, allowing time for the damp pieces to dry and the dust to settle, I took inventory of the treasures in the sack:

  • 2 glass bottles – Veryfine 100% Apple Juice (10 oz.) and Minute Maid 100% Pure Orange Juice (16 oz.)

  • 3 metal caps from bottles – Minute Maid, Bud Light, MGD (rusted)

  • 2 plastic bottle caps – 1 yellow, 1 red

  • 1 Velveeta Shells & Cheese box, flattened, plus fragments

  • 2 large portions of a Hardee’s drink cup

  • 1 Burger King fries container

  • 2 pieces of a Burger King straw cover

  • 1 large napkin, still neatly folded

  • 1 Wendy’s drink container, crushed

  • 1 white drink cup lid

  • 1 red straw

  • 1 white plastic spoon handle

  • 1 plastic sack for Tyson’s fresh young chicken

  • 1 Bigelow Plantation Mint tea package

  • 1 tea bag

  • 1 large envelope from Supermarket of Savings

  • 1 CD order form from "play"

  • 1 small plastic sack for 9x6mm craft beads, neon multi

  • 1 carton labeled Phillies Blunt

  • 2 cigarette cartons – Newport and Marlboro

  • 2 plastic cigar tips

  • 35 cigarette butts, including some identifiable as Marlboros, 1 GPC, 1 Cambridge

  • 1 foam packing peanut, greenish

  • 1 automotive plug marked "75," amber, with two metal prongs

  • 1 set of yellow and red earplugs

  • 1 black rubber piece with a square opening in the center

  • 1 leather tag labeled "Guaranteed Waterproof – Timberland"

  • 1 green rubber band

  • 1 torn cloth, about 5 inches square

  • 7 pieces of a game of chance ticket

  • 1 large cotton ball

  • various small wrappers – from Wonka Rainbow Nerds, Burst Gum, Chicken Flavor, Mamba (2), Jolly Rancher (cherry), orange candy

  • miscellaneous fragments of paper, cellophane, foil, plastic, foam

The presence of a trash dumpster with the lids sometimes left open may have contributed to the amount of litter on this particular block. On the other hand, not every location has such a handy place to get rid of trash properly.

Perhaps I would have made better use of time if I’d cleaned up a larger area instead of making a list of my pickings. I could have enjoyed more fresh air and sunshine that way, too. I did the itemizing after dark, however, and maybe the results from a limited area will be motivational for me and others.

Like most tasks, cleaning up litter is manageable if the job is handled in smaller parts. If the trash weren’t left on the ground in the first place, that would be even better.

[Mary Krallmann]



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