Saturday, September 19, 2009

Litterbuggin'

Humanity has come a long way. Given adequate time and resources, we have proven ourselves capable of everything from walking on the moon to mapping the human genome. Yet, I cannot help but wonder if all these accomplishments are nullified every time we are too lazy to place our refuse in a garbage can. Regardless of how you feel about global warming, environmental protection, or Al Gore’s choice of hairstyle; litter is a bi-partisan issue.

About two months ago I decided to take advantage of a beautiful summer day and complete some much needed yard-work. After removing the necessary lawn apparatus from my garage, I was fully prepared to begin entertaining my neighbors with my inability to pull start my weed trimmer when I noticed an odd collection of litter adorning my property. Further investigation revealed that my newly acquired yard potpourri was a combination of a Nachos Bell Grande value meal and a disturbingly-large bag of organic hamster food. Exactly what kind of nocturnal activities require both the delicate culinary delights of Taco Bell and immediate access to hamster food? Why did these articles suddenly become unbearable to have in their vehicle in front of my house? Who takes the time to feed their hamster and intentionally places the empty bag in their car to begin with?

This was not the first time I had found litter in my yard. Over my two years of residence I have seen beer cans, cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, plastic bottles, and even used paper plates. The volume was such that at one point I suspected I was the victim of an unusually passive hate-crime. I have since come to the conclusion that many of us reflexively throw our waste onto the ground without as much as a second thought, but we have long since passed the point of “innocence by ignorance.”

There are only a couple of valid excuses for indiscriminately disposing of waste outside of the proper receptacles. The first would be unavailability of a trash bin combined with the dire necessity of separating oneself from waste. This is perhaps feasible when on solitary wilderness hikes in bear country, but seems inapplicable in the majority of cases where studies have shown that littering most often occurs within six yards of a garbage can. I quickly marked this off my list.

The second possibility is that the perpetrator is blissfully unaware of the eclectic stream of trash launching itself from their vehicle. While this does occur, reports from state transportation departments seem to indicate that this “incidental littering” could only account for a very small percentage of the volume collected on roadsides. As it seems unlikely that someone could retain consciousness while remaining unaware that an entire value meal has catapulted itself from the seat of their car, I also eliminated this as a possibility. The unyielding facts left me with only one chilling scenario: I was the victim of a “litterbug.”

The term was coined in 1952 by Annette H. Richards while composing an article on vandalism in National Parks entitled “The Great American Litterbug” and has become synonymous with those who indiscriminately make their waste other people’s problem. Soon, I would be taking steps to unveil this hamster-loving menace.

Since our neighborhood is predominately comprised of closed streets, we see very little “thru-traffic” and I could safely assume that the scofflaw had ties to the area. This narrowed the field, but I really needed more if I was going to tighten my metaphorical dragnet…

Several years ago Texas conducted research to accurately profile repeat “litterbugs” (I can only imagine the federal grant money being channeled into this nugget) and the results caused a perceptible ripple amongst the litterbug profiling community: The typical litterbug is male or female smoker between the ages of 16-24 that travels more than 50 miles per day, eats fast food at least twice a week, and has never been married.

I thought that the last part was particularly insightful since the majority of 18 year-olds funding a nicotine habit while buying a full tank of gas every five days are probably still on the market. Nonetheless, I began surreptitiously creating a mental inventory of all local un-wed chain smoking miscreants too young to rent a car. While this narrowed the list of suspects to a more manageable number, I still needed more. I needed to go deeper, to unlock the primitive motivation behind this social deviance. Fortunately for me, the brave men and women of the Environmental Protection Agency of Australia are up to the task and have provided an easy to use classification system.

“Ignorants” – those mentally unable to link their littering to any environmental impact (these individuals are often in possessions of autographed Night Ranger ticket stubs)

“Willful Arrogants” – those who believe contextual littering is acceptable, such as urban littering, but will not litter in the countryside (because there are no baby seals at the bus stop)

“Anti-Establishments” – make a personal or political statement by purposeful littering (There is no greater catalyst of social reform than a carelessly discarded Fillet-O-Fish wrapper. “Take that, evil corporations!”)

Despite the plethora of profiling tools at my fingertips, I have, as of this writing, been unable to identify the offender. I am steadfast in my resolve to stop their reign of terror, but over the past several days I have come to the realization that my litterbug is by no means an endangered species.

So the next time that you are about to turn that value meal into yard shrapnel; do yourself a favor and let it ride shotgun for a few more miles, because if the litterbug profile is correct, you could probably use the company.

1 comment:


  1. Nhạc Thành ở Cực Viêm địa cũng chỉ lấy được năm viên Tăng Hồn đan mà thôi, Tăng Hồn đan có giá trị không hề dưới Phá Ách đan, nếu ở Huyền thiên nội lục, một bát phảm cao cấp lds ăn vào cũng đủ đột phá tới cửu phẩm sơ giai lds.

    - Lão gia này, tại sao là ông?

    Hồng Loan đột ngột nhìn thấy Nhạc Thiên lão tổ, chứng kiến Nhạc Thiên lão tổ sau đó, nàng nghĩ một chút rốt cục cũngdongtam
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    dịch vụ thành lập công ty
    http://we-cooking.com/
    chém gió
    trung tâm ngoại ngữ ra, lập tức quay đầu về phía Nhạc Thành nói:

    - Cha, lão gia hỏa này năm trăm năm trước cùng một nữ tử xinh đẹp đuổi theo con, bất quá bọn họ không thể đuổi kịp con, chẳng lẽ cha vì hắn mà luyện chế thân thể ?.

    - Hồng Loan, không được vô lễ, đây là lão tổ của ta, cũng là lão tổ của ngươi.

    Nhạc Thành trừng mắt nhìn Hồng Loan mà nói

    - Huyền Huyết Linh chi, đúng là Huyền Huyết Linh chi.

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